11:53 A.M. (EASTERN TIME).

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Tim Bontempspen.

BOSTON — The New York Knicks take on the New York Celtics 105-75 Sunday afternoon at the TD Garden.

But the Celtics will be happy to get a result, even if playmaker Kemba Walker continues to feel as good as he has since the start of the season.

I felt very comfortable with my moves, Walker said after scoring nine points, three rebounds, four assists and three steals in 20 minutes. I was] pain free, which I haven’t been in a long time.

It’s a strange feeling that there’s no real pain, if that makes any sense. It feels weird. I’ve been there a long time, so I was really glad I was there, just super excited. That was fun. I can’t wait to get back.

Error! The file name is not specified. Kemba Walker scored nine points in his season debut, but the Knicks swept the Celtics off their feet on Sunday. Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Sunday’s game was Walker’s first since the Eastern Conference finals, where the Celtics lost to the Miami Heat in six games. Walker received an injection into his troubled left knee after the season in Boston and then went on a 12-week strengthening program to try to rebuild it after it bothered him last year.

It was just a game – and a tough one – as a clearly rusty Walker shot 3 of 13 times from the field and hit 1 of 8 from 3-point range. But Walker seemed relieved to be playing pain-free for the first time in a long time. He said he felt the joy of being able to move around the field without the pain exploding in his knee.

When did I feel so healthy? I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. … I can’t tell you exactly when, Walker said. But it’s like… how the days go by, mentally, it’s like every day, every day I don’t think about it.

For a while, it was like I couldn’t mentally think of anything else. On the field, all I could think about was my knee. Every movement, every gesture I made was something, even if I wasn’t playing. Now, I’m trying to take a step back, and the first thing that comes to mind is..: Shit, this is gonna hurt. Don’t worry about whether or not you’re going to get a shot, just worry about the pain.

Today, when I’m here, I do the movements I normally do, and I don’t feel anything, and that’s a delight. I’m excited. I put a lot of work into it. I really attacked my detox to get to where I am now, and I want to keep building on that and try to stay healthy. That’s what’s important.

On a day when nothing is going right for the Celtics, who are feeling the absence of All-Star Jayson Tatum, who is not playing due to NBA health and safety protocols, Walker looks rushed as he moves around the court.

It’s a strange feeling that there’s no real pain, if that makes any sense. It feels weird. I’ve been there a long time, so I was really glad I was there, just super excited. That was fun. I can’t wait to get back.


Kemba Walker, early season.

From the first touchdown, he showed good momentum, getting into the lane and making a couple of skillful passes to Tristan Thompson and Grant Williams to get to the line of scrimmage, as well as getting into the passing lane and loading the ball up on the field before being called for a play where he could have easily gotten a foul call.

Although the Celtics would have preferred to see Walker and his teammates take a few more shots, coach Brad Stevens was encouraged by what he saw from his star defender.

I thought, as anyone with a very limited amount of practice time can predict, that there were some areas where he probably felt a little rusty, Stevens said. But in terms of physical movement on and off the floor, all that stuff, I thought he looked good.

Walker battled with his knee until last season was interrupted in March due to a coronavirus pandemic, then was limited to playing in the NBA this summer at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. when Boston returned.

After the reinforcement program, Walker slowly increased his workload, a process that was stalled by the recent problems with COVID-19 in Boston, when Robert Williams III and Tatum tested positive and several other players were on the contact list. As a result, he had to postpone three matches in Boston last week and returned to the court Friday for a win over the Orlando Magic.

Very little, Stevens said when asked how much Walker trains with his teammates. But he did a lot of things, for our mini-camp last week, he talked to the coaches a lot. He increased his work every day during this period. … It’s probably not your usual training, but they feel very good where he is, and he feels very good where he is.

Boston entered Sunday with the best record in the Eastern Conference (8-3), but could do nothing against the Knicks, who lost in five games. The Celtics suffered the loss of Tatum, who was averaging 26.9 points per game, on a day when they had not lost a single point in three games.

While Jaylen Brown continued his strong start with 25 points, no other Celtics player scored more than 10 points and the rest of the team shot 4 of 37 from the three-point line.

But ultimately, the Celtics know they need Walker, Tatum and Brown to play at a high level to be the contender they hope to be. Therefore, they will always see Sunday’s game as a positive.

Now, Boston will wait to see how Walker’s knee responds when he returns to court, a process that will likely involve a minute limit for some time.

No, Walker said when asked when his time had expired. I’ll be honest, I hope the next game is over. But I’m sure it’s for a few games.

I was on my way home. We just want to see how my knee feels after these games and stuff. Yet it will grow. I’ll take care of it. There’s no rush. Anyway, I was in no hurry to get home and I’ll continue to take my time until I’m completely gone.


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