Celtics facing a challenge in getting Kemba Walker back from injury

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Darren Hartwell
·2 min read
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The challenge Celtics face in getting Kemba back from injury originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics picked an unfortunate time to clear Kemba Walker for practice.

The Celtics gave Walker the green light to start practicing last Friday as he rehabs from a knee injury. Two days later, their game against the Miami Heat was postponed, and they haven't played since, with several players in quarantine after Robert Williams and Jayson Tatum reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.

Boston's brush with the coronavirus also means the team's facility is shut down -- which isn't exactly ideal for Walker.

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"The challenge with Kemba is, he's working but he hasn't really played basketball," C's president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Thursday on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher & Rich." 

"With all of these tests that have come back and our inability to practice and do 1-on-0 workouts, it's hard to get Kemba the real basketball reps he needs to get back on the court to play a game."

There was initial hope that Walker could return for Friday's game against the Orlando Magic, but in light of recent events, Ainge said that date is "a little bit early." As for when the 30-year-old may make his season debut, Ainge added he's "not sure."

The good news for Boston is that Walker appears to be acing the non-basketball part of his rehab.

"Kemba has progressed well," Ainge said. "He's worked extremely hard, and I'm excited about his return. And I know he's really excited to get back on the court. But he's doing fine, and we're hoping for big things."

Ainge expressed optimism that the Celtics would play this Friday as players return from quarantine, at which point Walker could return to practice and simulate some more game-like situations. But it doesn't sound like the four-time All-Star will be participating in game action in the immediate future.

UPDATE (1:10 p.m. ET): Good news for the C's: Walker joined the team Thursday at its first practice since last week.

"He's been able to continue to do his rehab and strengthening. His strengthening has been fantastic," head coach Brad Stevens told reporters Thursday in a video conference. "He was able to go full-go with us for an hour today."

Stevens noted the Celtics' training staff will determine Walker's "next steps," but it's an encouraging sign that he's practicing at full speed.

OddsMoney LinePoint SpreadTotal Points
Cleveland
+220+6.5O 212.5
Boston
-278-6.5U 212.5