Adversity, Including Kemba's Injury, Has Helped Bring Out C's Resiliency
BOSTON – Kemba Walker’s neck injury is not as serious as was originally believed and it will serve as a positive for the Boston Celtics in the long term.
Walker is likely to return to game action tonight after missing one and a half games due to a neck strain. He suffered the injury, which required him to be stabilized on a spinal board and stretchered off of the court, late during the second quarter of Boston’s loss to Denver Friday night.
His exit from the court gave the Celtics inspiration to play their hearts out during the final 24 minutes of that game against Denver. They battled back from a 19-point, second-half deficit to make it a one-point game with 4:33 remaining. The two teams went back and forth during the final minutes, with the Nuggets coming out on top with a 96-92 win.
While Boston suffered a loss, the high level of competitiveness it showed that night was inspiring for Walker to watch on television while he was being treated at a local hospital. Many fans have also expressed similar feelings after watching the team’s spirited comeback attempt.
“I sent those guys a text and let them know that I was OK and that I was really proud of them for the way that they responded through the emotion,” Walker said at Wednesday morning's shootaround, ahead of a matchup with the Brooklyn Nets.
What’s even more encouraging for this group of Celtics is that their response Friday night was not an isolated indication of mental toughness. There have already been many instances this season in which Boston has battled through adversity and found positive growth.
The Celtics have also dealt with losing Gordon Hayward to a fractured left hand and had six key players miss a total of 22 combined games thus far. They have also traveled out to the West Coast and back, maneuvering back-and-forth throughout time zones, and have had five of their last six games go down to the wire while being decided by five points or fewer.
All of those circumstances have contributed to the Celtics building a strong mindset that Walker cannot ignore.
“It’s all about the teams who kind of overcome the adversity,” said Walker. “I think we’re learning that we’re really resilient, and we’re together. We understand that in wins we’re together, and in losses we’re together.
“You’ve got to take it how it is and move on to the next and just keep on responding to whatever challenges come our way, and I think that’s what we’ve been doing.”
The presence of such resiliency will certainly come in handy throughout the course of a grueling 82-game regular season. It is also a must-have when it comes to finding success in the Playoffs.
Injuries like the one suffered by Walker, tight games and a tough schedule have all combined to pose a challenging stretch for the Celtics over the last two weeks. That stretch, however, has made the C’s better for the long term.
Boston may only be 16 games into its regular season, but it already knows that when the going gets tough, it isn’t going to back down. That type of knowledge is priceless.