ESPN Ranks Celtics Top 5 Despite Record-Breaking Loss Vs. Knicks

Getty Images Kemba Walker is fouled by Mitchell Robinson in a 105-75 Knicks win over the Celtics on Sunday

The Boston Celtics were on the wrong end of franchise history following their loss to the New York Knicks on Sunday, but with a pain-free Kemba Walker on the court; it had a little-to-no effect on their standing in this week’s ESPN NBA Power Rankings.

According to Celtics radio play-by-play announcer Sean Grande, in Sunday’s 105-75 beating by the hands of Knicks, Boston missed 39 3-pointers against New York – which set a new franchise record.

After seeing his team connect on 17-of-42 in a 124-97 win over the Orlando Magic on Friday, head coach Brad Stevens watched the Celtics put up a matinee-themed clunker. In the end, Boston shot 15.2% from behind the arc on 7-of-46 attempts.

In recent franchise history – the Brad Stevens era, to be specific – the Celtics matched their lowest point total (75) on Sunday, according to Grande. It was a rough day all-around, however, the good news that came from TD Garden came hours before the game when Stevens announced that his All-Star point guard would be making his season debut.

ESPN NBA Power Rankings: Celtics No. 4

For Celtics fans, their eyes were glued on Kemba. And while his stat line isn’t going to raise many eyebrows – 9 points, 4 assists, 3 steals, 5 turnovers in 20 minutes – Walker’s return, this early in the season, is what’s most important for Boston. At 8-4 in the Eastern Conference, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps says their five-game winning streak before Sunday was good enough for No. 4 in this week’s Power Rankings.

Adding Kemba is great news for a team that’s building early regular-season momentum despite a slew of postponed games.

“Yes, the Celtic saw their five-game winning streak snapped by the Knicks on Sunday,” Bontemps wrote. “But if Kemba Walker is able to stay spry and healthy – and he looked that way in the 20 minutes he played in his season debut – Boston will be thrilled. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have been outstanding so far this season, but for the Celtics to get where they hope, they’ll need Walker at his best. That’s why Walker saying he was pain-free was all that mattered on Sunday.”

Kemba Walker Following Sunday’s Loss Vs. Knicks: ‘Pain-free, Which I Haven’t Been For A Very Long Time’

For Walker, the pain-free motion was an ongoing issue last season. So much so that playing basketball against the Knicks on Sunday, admittingly felt odd, says Kemba.

“I felt really comfortable making my moves,” Walker said after Sunday’s loss. “(I was) pain-free, which I haven’t been for a very long time. It feels weird actually not having pain if that makes sense. It’s kind of a weird feeling. I’ve been hurt for a very long time, so I was really just happy to get out there, just super excited. It was fun. I can’t wait to get back out there.”

The Philadelphia 76ers will host a two-game mini-series against the Celtics that starts Wednesday night before a rematch on Friday.

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