Nearly three weeks out of the tournament, having played as a rookie in his first 19 games of the season, not only is Kemba Walker back in the squad, but he started with the Knicks at TD Garden against his former Celtics side.
Whether it’s his return to the squad or his return to TD Garden since he was traded out of the season, the Celtics faithful gave the 31-year-old veteran a standing ovation upon his introduction.
This was Locker’s first match since November 26 that he was pulled out of rotation due to the team playing with him on the ground especially on the defensive end.
Having said that, with six Knicks on league health and safety protocols combined with Derrick Rose’s ankle injury, the 6-footer was the best player available for the team.
Although the New York franchise eventually lost to the Celtics 114-107, it wasn’t without a fight and Walker was a big reason for that. The Knicks were late in nearly every first half, including their biggest deficit of 16, but in the third quarter, Walker gave everyone — the Knicks and Celtics — a reminder of his impact.
The point guard ended with 29 points, 17 of which were scored in a very hot blast in the third quarter. His attacking at the end of the first half helped the Knicks outperform the Celtics 41-24 in the period and put them back in the game.
Although he couldn’t finish his brilliant game by adding ice to the contest, having failed lately, Walker scored the team’s highest level plus-minus (+5). That’s one thing, given the numbers behind why he was pulled from the squad earlier in the season.
Not to mention the truth He made his sixth and final mistake to stop the play after injuring Yvan Fournier.
In 18 matches until November 26, the team Net rating with him on the floor was -11.9 – Worst among the main rotation players – and when he’s on the bench, the team’s net rating jumps to +3.0. Walker’s sum plus minus -122 was ranked 450 Out of a total of 466 players, they scored the minutes in games before November 26.
Should Kimba Walker play more?
“I know I have to play,” Walker said after the match.
It’s no surprise that Tom Thibodeau is cautious with his post-match comments before committing to anything.
Tom Thibodeau on Kimba Walker’s performance:
“That’s what he’s supposed to do. He’s a professional, a great personality, and he played really well.”
On the possibility of keeping it spinning:
“We’ll see. You have to look at everything in its entirety.” pic.twitter.com/EU6OqbJj3r
– Knicks videos (@sny_knicks) December 19 2021
The decision to play Walker more, at least in the near future, may not be in Tibodou’s hands given the number of players the team has turned away in league protocols.