The Boston Celtics got some bad news on the medical front this week, as promising young big man Robert Williams III tested positive for COVID-19, and Grant Williams and Tristan Thompson had to enter a seven-day quarantine after being exposed to the virus.
But they also got some good news in the form of a positive update on star guard Kemba Walker. On Friday, the team announced that Walker, who has missed the entire start of the season due to a knee injury, has been cleared to begin practicing. No official decision has been made, but the team is targeting next Friday's matchup against the Orlando Magic for Walker's debut should things go according to plan, according to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe.
Walker dealt with a troublesome left knee for much of last season, and was under a minutes restriction when play initially resumed in the bubble. Though he was able to suit up for the playoffs, he was clearly not himself, and Celtics president Danny Ainge publicly acknowledged that Walker may have returned too early.
After the Celtics were eliminated by the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals, Walker met with specialists and decided to get a stem cell injection in his knee and undergo a 12-week strengthening program. Boston was prepared to be without him to begin the season, and have been playing it safe due to how things went down in Orlando.
While not having Walker in the lineup from opening night has obviously been a big loss, it's much more important that he's 100 percent for the playoffs, and the Celtics have enough talent to keep themselves above water until he returns. Though they haven't played their best basketball at times, especially on the defensive end, the Celtics are 6-3 and just a game behind the Philadelphia 76ers for the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Putting up 26.3 points, seven rebounds and four assists per game, Jayson Tatum is showing that last season's breakout campaign was no fluke. And right there alongside him as been Jaylen Brown, who appears to be making a leap of his own. He's at 26.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. That young duo has the Celtics in position to really take off once Walker returns.