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#pounditThursday, April 22, 2021

Kemba Walker was ‘not himself’ in NBA bubble, Danny Ainge believes

Kemba Walker

Kemba Walker’s first playoff run with the Boston Celtics was not as successful as he would have liked, and his general manager knows it.

GM Danny Ainge said it was clear that Walker was physically not right toward the end of the Celtics’ playoff run.

“I wasn’t there [in the bubble],” Ainge said, via Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “I was watching from here, but I could see, even when he was here before the bubble started — which is why he was shut down a little bit and doing strength training and trying to prepare himself for the playoff run and the intensity of the playoff run — but he was definitely not himself.

“In fairness to Kemba, he doesn’t want to say that. He doesn’t say that to our coaches. He doesn’t say that to you, the media. He doesn’t say that to me. I haven’t heard one excuse from him. But watching the games, even the games we won, even the games where he played well, I could tell he wasn’t the same physically as he was in October, November, December. So we’re going to try to get that Kemba back.”

Walker was bothered by a knee injury for most of the second half of the season, and it got pretty significant in February before the league shut down. He looked better in the first round of the playoffs, but appeared to tweak the injury against Toronto. He averaged 19.7 points per game in Boston’s series loss to Miami, but shot only 42.6 percent from the floor.

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