Celtics' Kemba Walker Available to Make 2021 Debut vs. Knicks After Injury

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 17, 2021

Ron Hoskins

Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker is available to play in Sunday's game against the New York Knicks.

Walker underwent a stem cell injection to his left knee in October and has not played during the 2020-21 season. He was significantly hampered by the knee from January 2020 on and was noticeably less effective during last season's restart in Orlando, Florida.

“It’s definitely calmed my knee down a lot,” Walker told reporters in training camp. “Feeling really good right now. Just taking my time, trying to continue to feel good, get stronger.”

The Celtics have managed an 8-3 start without Walker, tying them for first place in the Eastern Conference. Marcus Smart has taken on an increased workload as a ball-handler, averaging a career-high 6.0 assists per game, while Payton Pritchard and Jeff Teague have also pitched in off the bench.

Pritchard has been a pleasant surprise as a rookie and should maintain his spot in the rotation. Teague, who has struggled for most of the season, will likely see the biggest impact with Walker back in the lineup.

It's likely the Celtics will keep Walker on a minutes restriction and limit him in back-to-backs while he ramps up his conditioning. 

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Walker's strengthening in his knee has gone "fantastic" and that the team anticipates him being back at his former self once he rounds into form. 

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