Celtics point guard Kemba Walker missed Tuesday’s game against the Thunder because of a side strain and is expected to sit out against the Hornets on Wednesday, too, before being reevaluated on Thursday.
During the second quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Hornets, Walker went to contest a 3-point shot and clutched his left side, grimacing when he landed. He immediately signaled to Boston’s bench to call a timeout before going directly to the locker room.
But he returned to the game soon after and appeared fine. After the game he said he’d just experienced from “weird pain” and that he couldn’t explain it.
“He didn’t feel it after that point,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Tuesday. “He felt it when it happened. He went back, got it checked out, was cleared to go. It doesn’t sound like it would have gotten worse after that time. So obviously if we knew what we did now—we did think and our training staff did think that if he was going to be sore, it was going to be the next day. So I don’t know if that’s the adrenaline of the game or whatever the case may be. But he was cleared to go back. And it doesn’t sound like it got worse throughout the game. It sounds like it was that moment.”
Walker has sat out the second game of every back-to-back set this season, so he would have missed Wednesday’s matchup against Charlotte even if he had been healthy to play against the Thunder on Tuesday.
Center Robert Williams on Tuesday missed his seventh game in a row due to a sore knee and Jayson Tatum sat out because of a sore ankle. Stevens said that the team is hopeful Williams will be able to play tomorrow. Tatum is expected to return then, too.
“You’re only going to peak if we get fully healthy, but I think the bottom line is that we have to play as well as we can on every possession to give ourselves a chance to win,” Stevens said. “And I know that sounds like a coach-ism, but it’s the reality of it. We have to play well to win. We do not have this extra gear that people talk about, these switches. Like, we have to play well. We have to compete. We have to move the ball on one end. We have to defend with great urgency at the rim and at the 3-point line on the other end. And we have to play well.”
Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday announced that pro sports venues can be filled to 25 percent of capacity starting May 10. Arenas and stadiums had been capped at 12 percent capacity since March 22 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The Celtics’ final regular-season home game will be played at TD Garden against the Heat on May 11. But the larger crowds will then be in attendance throughout the playoffs.
“I can’t wait to have them all here,” Stevens said. “Can’t get back soon enough.”
The Celtics donated tickets to Tuesday’s game to medical workers at Beth Israel Lahey Health and Boston Children’s Hospital as part of the team’s Healthcare Heroes night. Before the game, the team also created a virtual courtside experience for workers who were unable to attend. They were able to watch warmups, speak to Celtics players and take part in a virtual “high-five tunnel” as the team ran onto the floor.