Fournier, Walker ‘Intrigued’ by Quick-Forming Chemistry
After competing against each other as Southeast Division rivals for the majority of their respective NBA careers, Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker are now thriving as teammates on Boston Celtics.
The veteran duo has only played six games together, but Walker says that he felt “instant chemistry” with Fournier ever since Boston acquired the French wing ahead of the March 25 trade deadline.
Such chemistry was as apparent as ever Wednesday night, when the tandem helped to jump-start a 132-96 victory over Fournier’s former Magic team, which gave the Celtics their 10th-largest margin of victory on the road in franchise history.
Fournier and Walker took turns getting Boston’s offense cooking at Amway Center, as they combined to score 22 of the team’s first 29 points, paving the way for a 39-point first quarter. They wound up combining for 50 points (32 for Walker, 18 for Fournier) on 19-of-32 shooting from the field, including 8-of-14 from long range. And their stellar teamwork garnered plenty of interest from their head coach.
“I think that [Evan] and Kemba really like playing with each other,” Brad Stevens said after the game. “I think that has a chance to have good chemistry, we just haven't seen it that much yet. I think they've just played against each other for so long, and I think they're intrigued by that as well.”
What is also intriguing is the common link that Fournier and Walker share – a link that ironically was trying to break them apart Wednesday night.
That link is Magic head coach Steve Clifford, who coached Fournier for the past three seasons in Orlando following five seasons of coaching Walker in Charlotte.
“Maybe that's the reason,” Fournier said after pointing out the Clifford connection. Though he also believes that their strong bond has much to do with their complementary playing styles.
“He's the type of player that can really catch and shoot and we play off each other,” Fournier said of Walker. “And when I'm driving, I look for my teammates. And sometimes he's open, so I just try to hit him.”
Walker is making it a point to try to hit Fournier more often as well, especially since Fournier is attempting to find his groove after missing three weeks with COVID-19.
Fournier struggled in his first five games back while dealing with lingering “concussion”-like side-effects of the illness, as he totaled just 23 points on 21.6 percent shooting during that span. But he has flipped a switch over the last two games, totaling 39 points on 66.7 percent shooting.
“We’ve got to get him going,” Walker said. “We know what he's capable of. I know what he's capable of. He's going to be huge for us going down the stretch. We need him, big time."
The Celtics are going to need both Fournier and Walker playing at the top of their respective games – just as they did Wednesday night ¬– to have any chance at postseason success. That shouldn’t be a problem as long as their “instant chemistry” can be sustained.