The Boston Celtics need Kemba Walker to step up big-time for them to stay alive in the 2021 NBA Playoffs.
With Jaylen Brown out, the Boston backcourt has been need of someone willing to rise to the occasion. While Marcus Smart has performed decently, he is not the offensive player of Brown. Even while Jayson Tatum put up 50 points in Game 3, Walker was nowhere to be found. It’s unrealistic to expect him to be able to continue to put up scoring performances like that, so even though Walker is dealing with injuries himself, the Celtics will quickly bow out this spring without him playing better.
What kind of production will the Celtics need out of Walker if they hope to upset the Nets here?
Boston Celtics: Kemba Walker has to tap into vintage form vs. Brooklyn Nets
Though Walker does not have to be the Celtics’ best player like he was for years with the Charlotte Hornets, he needs to emerge as the No. 2 offensive option to Tatum going forward. He cannot have another six-point game like he did on Friday night and expect his team to keep the loaded Nets roster of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving at bay. He has to play better right now.
In Game 1, Walker had 15 points, 2 assists and 1 rebound in 27 minutes. Brooklyn won easily, 104-93. While Walker had his best game of the series in Game 2 with 17 points, 7 assists and 3 rebounds in 30 minutes, the Celtics were blown out by the Nets, 130-108. Friday night saw Walker have 6 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists in the Celtics’ 125-119 Game 3 victory.
Ultimately, Walker needs to play no worse than he did in Game 2 for the Celtics to have any chance in Games 4, 5 or 6. It would be shocking at this point for the Celtics to force a Game 7 vs. the Atlantic Division rival, but that is what it is going to take for Boston to do the improbable and advance. If Walker gets the Celtics around 20 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds, they have a shot.
While another herculean effort out of Tatum would be great, an improved Walker would be better and far more sustainable.