Kemba Walker reveals big expectation on Celtics-Heat East Finals
Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker has never played in the Eastern Conference Finals, and he knows his first one won’t be easy.
Ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 matchup between Boston and the No.5-seeded Miami Heat, Walker shared his expectations for the series.
“It’s going to be a dog fight,” Walker said, per Chris Grenham of Forbes. “It’s going to be a war. I’m looking forward to it.”
So far, Walker has played in 11 postseason games in his first season with the Celtics, matching his total over eight seasons as a member of the Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets. Charlotte advanced to the first round twice with Walker in 2013-14 and 2015-16, losing to Miami both times.
Walker played well in Boston’s first-round sweep of the Philadelphia 76ers, averaging 24.3 points per game on 49.3 percent shooting. However, his performance dipped toward the end of the team’s knock-down, drag-out seven-game battle against Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet and the Toronto Raptors. Kemba averaged 17.0 points on a 42.1 percent clip in the conference semis.
The Celtics went 2-1 against the Heat in the regular season, with Walker averaging 19.7 points against the Miami defense. However, ahead of the Conference Finals, the All-Star point guard is more focused on how to guard Jimmy Butler and company.
“We’ve just got to be locked in,” the Celtics star said about the challenge of facing the Heat, via Tim Reynolds of AP. “We’ve got to do it all for a very long time, especially defensively. Those guys have so many different ways they can score the basketball. We’re going to have to be really locked into their shooters, really locked into Jimmy, obviously Bam [Adebayo], who’s just a different kind of big who can do pretty much everything. So, we’re versatile, but so are they. We’re just going to have to figure ways out to get stops consistently.”
Kemba Walker will be hoping to bounce back from a 5-for-16 shooting performance in Game 7 versus Toronto, though he did nail two clutch free throws as part of his 14 points.
For what it’s worth, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens is certainly excited to see the 30-year-old in his first high-profile final four since his epic run with UConn in 2011.
“He deserves to experience this. He’s everything that’s good about basketball. He loves the game, he’s a great teammate, he doesn’t care if he gets any of the glory,” Stevens said. “He’s just a special guy. Guys like that deserve to play on these stages and for all the marbles. And I’m glad he gets to keep doing it.”