As we all try and get through Day 23 with no Celtics basketball, this was the exact soundbite I needed to hear. I think we all can agree this NBA hiatus sucks gigantic donkey dick, but for a team like the Celts this prolonged break is in some ways a blessing considering they've been injured basically all year. The intended starting lineup of Kemba/Jaylen/HaywardTatum/Theis have played a total of 17 games and 188 minutes together this season. In the event you forgot, the Celtics have played 64 games. That's good for 26%. So everyone getting a few months to get healthy in theory can only help guys like Hayward who may have some nagging injuries, it'll help Jaylen's hamstring and Robert Williams' hip. But if there is one player who maybe needed this break more than anyone, it's Kemba.
Look there's really no other way to say it, since Nick Nurse ran him into the ground at the All Star Game, Kemba's been pretty terrible. That's not hyperbole either.
Pre All Star Break: 21.8/4.1/5.0 on 43/38% shooting
Post All Star Break: 14.8/3.8/4.3 on 30/25% shooting
He missed the first 5 games after the break which certainly wasn't encouraging and then once he came back against BKN on 3/3....well we all know what happened. Even if you throw out the numbers, the eye test was telling us that Kemba did not look like the same player. He wasn't as explosive, he was hesitant to drive into the lane and attack the rim. Seeing as how we've all seen this level of hesitant play with Hayward, we as fans know it when we see it. Kemba either didn't trust his knee or he simply wasn't 100%. Kemba is one of the toughest guards to stay in front of when he's right, yet he couldn't blow by anyone which was a big time problem for this offense.
Then you actually look at the numbers and you see Kemba was shooting 33% in the restricted area once he got back, 33% from the left corner three and 24% from above the break. He was shooting just 33% on pullup twos and just 26.9% on pull up threes. Those are two huge area's of Kemba's offensive arsenal that were basically shit, probably because his knee was fucked up. As a team the Celts went 2-3 in Kemba's 5 games back and had the 24th ranked offense in the league. That all feels related.
So, if Kemba is going to tell me the knee is doing well then I'm going to convince my brain that he's telling the truth and this break has actually been a positive for him. I don't care if he's lying, you don't need to be telling me the truth at this point in the hiatus, you just need to tell me what I want to hear so I have something to believe in while we all wait for this to be over. I fully understand that we were given this same line before he came back and the play didn't really match it, but this time might be different. Don't be negative right now. I know he's obviously going to say things are going well no matter what, but see the beginning of this paragraph. I don't care. Hearing it is enough for me.
I think it goes without saying that a healthy Kemba is going to be fairly important to whatever this team might do once basketball eventually comes back. If we get post All Star Break Kemba this team is in a world of trouble. But if we get this?
Well now we're cooking.