PORTLAND, Ore. — Before the Hornets faced the Heat in the 2016 postseason, point guard Kemba Walker had his left knee drained to reduce swelling and allow him to compete in just the second playoff series of his career.
He’d undergone surgery to repair a torn meniscus in January 2015 and the swelling was believed to be related to that. Walker averaged 22.7 points in that seven-game series that Charlotte lost to the Heat, but he made just 36.6 percent of his shots.
“I wouldn’t say [I felt] good,” Walker said Tuesday morning. “I was able to play. It was tough, but it was the playoffs.”
At season’s end, he had another surgery on that left meniscus. After the following season, Walker had a third surgery on that left knee, this one more of a maintenance scope to remove loose bodies.
That same knee continues to give Walker issues. He sat out Tuesday’s game with the Trail Blazers with knee soreness. It was his third straight game and seventh since Jan. 18. But Walker, Celtics coach Brad Stevens, and the team’s medical staff remain confident that this will not be a long-term issue.
Walker reiterated Tuesday that he has undergone MRIs that showed no structural damage. He insisted that he will not need surgery, and he was encouraged by the fact that the swelling has subsided. The team remains focused on building Walker’s strength in the knee so he is soon able to go at his usual breakneck speed.
“I just have to be smart,” Walker said. “You just have to be. For sure if it was up to me I would definitely go out there and play, but at this point I just don’t want to take a step backward, if I was to go out there. So, just being cautious.”
Stevens said Walker is unlikely to face the Jazz on Wednesday night. The Celtics will then have two days off before facing the Rockets at TD Garden on Saturday.
“What he’s doing is exactly what we said, strengthening and working out hard and trying to make it so it doesn’t become a back-and-forth thing,” Stevens said. “That’s the goal, is that if we need to sit him, it’s a planned second night of a back-to-back down the road. It’s not because the knee acted up and we need another week or two. Let’s do it now, strengthen it, make it as good as it can be, then we can ramp up accordingly as we head into the stretch run.”
Many members of the Celtics’ organization attended Monday’s memorial service for Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Jaylen Brown, who was among the Celtics in attendance, said the ceremony was impactful.
“Just the influence, the impact that somebody of that stature had was amazing,” Brown said. “I think he’ll continue to be celebrated, and he won’t be forgotten. It makes you think about how you want to be remembered when you’re gone. Definitely a blessing to be able to experience that, especially with my teammates. And big prayers up to Kobe and his family.”
Williams on track
Celtics center Robert Williams, who has been sidelined since Dec. 6 with a hip edema, has taken part in the Celtics’ full workouts during this road trip and remains on track to return shortly after the team returns to Boston.
“He’s dunking at like 13 feet right now, so he looks fine by my non-medical eyes,” Stevens said. “But it’s all about the scan at the end of the week. If ramping him up has provided no increase in issues, then he’s ready to go. If the scan doesn’t look good, we’re back to square one.”