- The Boston Celtics will start the 2020-21 season without Kemba Walker.
- Walker recently received a stem cell injection in his left knee and is expected to miss the start of the season.
- The Celtics have the third best odds to win the Eastern Conference at +600.
The Boston Celtics will start the 2020-21 NBA season without one of their top scorers.
In a medical update released on Tuesday, the Celtics announced that All-Star guard Kemba Walker will miss the start of the upcoming season and will be out until at least January 2021.
#NEBHInjuryReport medical updates on Kemba Walker, Romeo Langford and Tristan Thompson. https://t.co/IPV26Y2uWr
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 1, 2020
According to the Celtics, Walker is currently working out to strengthen his bothersome left knee. The 30-year old recently had a stem cell injection in his left knee and was placed on a 12-week strengthening program. Walker is expected to return to basketball activities later this month but his availability status won’t be known until at least the first week on January 2021:
Better Fit Than Kyrie
Breaking: Kemba Walker has agreed to sign a four-year, $141M max contract to join the Boston Celtics, Excel Sports agent Jeff Schwartz tells @wojespn. pic.twitter.com/iULtW5GjrI
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 30, 2019
The Celtics signed Walker to a four-year deal in the summer of 2019 in a sign and trade deal with the Charlotte Hornets. He was coming off a season in Charlotte where he averaged a career-high 25.6 points per game while also putting p 5.9 assists, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game. He earned All-NBA 3rd team honors during the 2018-19 season, his first all-league selection.
Walker’s arrival coincided with the departure of Kyrie Irving who left Boston to sign with the Brooklyn Nets. Not only did Walker offset the loss of Irving, he looked like he was the better fit to the team. With Irving, the Celtics went 49-33 or a winning percentage of 59.8%. Boston was 48-24 with Walker last season or a winning percentage of 66.7%.
He earned his fourth all-star selection with the Celtics last season and Boston finished the regular season as the third seed in the Eastern Conference. They would go on to sweep the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round and oust the then-defending champions Toronto Raptors in the second round. The Celtics made it to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2017 but lost to the Miami Heat in six games.
Bothered By His Knee
Thirty Futures: Boston Celtics (@cs_mcgowan on Kemba Walker’s sore left knee and how small guards tend to age in dog years) https://t.co/71wwd88flu
— RealGM (@RealGM) November 30, 2020
Walker played in 50 games before the season was suspended. He averaged 21.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, and a team-high 4.9 assists per game during that period. By mid-March, he already made 165 three-pointers and was on pace to hit 260. However, Walker began to experience knee soreness in January 2020 and missed a total of 10 games during the lead-up to the suspension of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After shooting the ball at a 43.9% clip through January, he struggled with a 31.7% shooting clip after February.
During the seeding games at Walt Disney World, Walker played restricted minutes. He shone during the first round series against the Sixers, averaging 24.3 points per game on 49.3% field goal shooting. But then he tweaked his knee in the next round and shot just 42.1% against the Raptors, and 42.5% against the Heat in the Conference Finals.
He would finish the 2019-20 season with his worst shooting percentage since 2015, his fewest minutes since his rookie season, and his scoring average dropped 5.2 points per game from the previous season. Walker also played in just 56 regular season games, the fewest of his NBA career.
Sportsbooks have pegged Boston’s win total for the 2020-21 season to be at 44.5 or a 61.80% winning percentage during the upcoming 72-game season. That’s a slight decrease from their 2019-20 mark of 48-24 or 66.7%. Online sportsbook SportsBetting.ag currently favors the Celtics to go under that win total (-130) with the over 44.5 wins at even money.
Boston finished with the second best record in the Atlantic Division last season behind the Toronto Raptors. They are currently listed as second in the Atlantic Division oddsboard at +220 behind the Brooklyn Nets. The Celtics also have the third best odds to win the Eastern Conference at +600 with only the Milwaukee Bucks (+250) and Brooklyn Nets (+300) having better odds.
The Celtics still have their formidable duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. They will also be returning Marcus Smart who had a breakout 2020 playoffs. But with Gordon Hayward gone and Kemba Walker temporarily unavailable, this is a different Celtics team. Sure, Brad Stevens is a great coach but he definitely has his work cut out for him this coming season.