Momentum goes both ways, and currently, the Boston Celtics appear to be heading in the wrong direction. After an extremely strong showing for much of April, the Cs have suddenly dropped three of their last four games and are coming off an absolute stinker on Sunday. The Charlotte Hornets toyed with a near-fully healthy Boston team for the majority of 48 minutes, knocking down 48.8% of their 3-point attempts and nearly breaking the NBA record for assists in a game en route to a 21-point beatdown of the Celtics.
Following the contest, veteran point guard Kemba Walker made it clear that the team’s efforts in a crucial conference bout were intolerable.
“They just flat out beat us,” Walker told reporters. “It’s very unacceptable. We’ve got to be better.” The 30-year-old later added, “tonight we just took a step back.”
Walker wasn’t the only Celtics All-Star to voice his displeasure. Jaylen Brown — who returned to action after missing two games with a shoulder injury — was brutally honest in the lack of fight the Celtics showed from the opening tipoff.
“They came out smacked us in the mouth and we never recovered,” he claimed. Brown did give Charlotte their roses, noting that “To be honest, I give a lot of credit to the Hornets… They played extremely well tonight.”
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Kemba Ruled OUT vs. OKC
The Celtics suffered a scare during the first half of Sunday’s loss when Walker headed to the locker room clutching his left side. The 30-year-old returned to the hardwood approximately 10 minutes later, showing no ill effects from the injury. Walker would go on to log 29 minutes, finishing the game with 20 points, six rebounds and four assists.
While he admitted to still being in some pain, Kemba mostly downplayed the injury following the game:
“I’m fine right now, but I’m still hurting a little, to be honest. I guess I’ll get some better information on it tomorrow (Monday),” he added. “Just watch the situation and see how I feel when I wake up — but I’m ok.”
However, it appears possible that the “more information” on Monday may have not gone Walker’s way, as the Celtics have since ruled him out for Tuesday’s contest against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Of course, with any time Walker is made unavailable, there is the possibility that the team is simply giving their oft-injured star the night off. Walker has missed 10 games since making his season debut as the team continues to hold him out of back-to-backs. With that said, Tuesday night’s game is obviously not a back-to-back. Furthermore, he’s listed with a “left side strain” on the injury report.
Jayson Tatum OUT, Time Lord Nearing a Return
Joining Walker on the injury report is forward Jayson Tatum and big-man Robert Williams. Tatum has been ruled out with a left ankle impingement. Tatum missed five games earlier in the season after testing positive for COVID-19, as well as a late-March game against the Grizzles with a non-COVID-related illness.
Williams has seen his game designation bump up to “questionable” ahead of the OKC tilt. Time Lord has missed six consecutive games with a knee injury. Prior to his injury, Williams had started 10 consecutive games, posting an average of 10.1 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists over that span.