CAUTION: DO NOT overreact about Kemba Walker's disappointing debut with the Celtics
Yes I know, the season opener for the Celtics was a massive disappointment for so many reasons. Missed free throws. 2.5 million foul calls. Not being able to knock do got field goal attempts. I get it. But maybe the most ridiculous reactions I've seen from the game are those revolving around the performance of Kemba Walker, who finished with just 12 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists.
Kemba Walker had an extremely disappointing debut with the Celtics last night scoring just 12 points on 22% shooting in the Celtics 107-93 loss in Philly. Photo via Michael Dwyer
Now I'm not going to make excuses for Kemba, last night was pretty rough. If I WAS going to make excuses though I don't think it would be a very hard task. There was not a single player last night who necessarily "dominated" the offensive end (or the defensive end for that matter) because the entire game was a mess for both teams. It was a slow, stagnant night full of foul trouble and terrible shooting. Along with this was the fact that neither Brad Stevens nor the Celtics overall necessarily know what they're going for and how they can fully maximize the talent they have on the roster yet, and they shouldn't because it was literally the FIRST game. As a result, Kemba couldn't get anything going against the Sixer's massive defense. He had trouble creating an open shot for himself consistently and even when he did he failed to knock it down.
However. regardless of all of that, I can't use those as 100% justifiable excuses for the guy. He shot 4-18 (22%) from the field on the night and was a no show when the Celtics needed him most in the second half. He also had 3 turnovers, 4 fouls, and just 2 assists after the Celtics' 107-93 loss was mercifully over. But that's the thing, it's over. It's out of the way and we should just be glad it is. I would much rather have Walker play like that now than in the second round of the NBA playoffs against the Bucks.
The reality is that SOMETIMES (even though it seems ridiculous) NBA superstars have nights like this. I'm sure some of us remember when 3 point shooting legend Ray Allen shot 0-13 from the field in the 2010 NBA finals of all places. Or when hall of fame big man Dirk Nowitzki (who was an MVP candidate at the time) shot 2-13 and scored just 13 points for the Mavericks in a crucial first-round game of the 2007 NBA playoffs. Or how about in game 3 of the 2004 NBA Finals when KOBE BRYANT (yes him) shot 4/13 with 11 points and 4 turnovers against the Detroit Pistons.
Those all seem way worse right? That's because they are and we could go on for hours talking about performances just like them from NBA legends, but that's beyond the point. Those performances were all in crucial, career-defining games on the biggest stages possible and they still churned out that kind of play.
The fact of the matter is, these things happen.
So stop complaining about and criticizing Kemba's contract after one game. Stop comparing his performance last night to Kyrie Irving's debut in Brooklyn. And stop doubting an all-NBA level talent after just one game of his season for a brand new team against a top tier defense in the NBA. If this was January or February and he was playing consistently like this that would be a different story. He played an awful game for his standards, we know it, he knows it, and we'll all move past it.
I know it is tough to ask us Celtics fans to be patient after last season where we literally waited all year just for a dud in the second round and last night may have felt like more of the same, but let's all just take a second to breathe.
It was an awful game overall. Awfully play, awfully coached, and awfully officiated. But this type of thing won't stick and everything will start to run more smoothly.
I was just as disappointed as anyone could have possibly been last night when the game ended, but I can't lie throughout the first half I had a lot of fun watching the new Celtics' play together under the communication and leadership from Kemba that was highlighted by ESPN through Mic'd Up.
It didn't work out in the second half, but I still took some things away that keep me encouraged moving forward, and hopefully, a lot of other Celtics fans did as well.
But what are your thoughts about Kemba's play specifically last night? What do you think was the biggest challenge that prevented him from getting things going? And what obvious tweaks does he (or the rest of the offense) have to make moving forward? Let me know in the comments below.