Kemba Walker can’t seem to buy a shot right now.
The Celtics’ star point guard shot 6 for 19, including 1 for 9 from 3-point territory, and finished with 19 points in their Game 1 overtime loss to the Heat.
Tuesday marked the third straight game that Walker shot below 33 percent from the field and the fifth consecutive game he’s made just one 3-point shot, down from his 3.2 per game average during the season.
Walker didn’t mince words when speaking to reporters on his performance after the game.
“I’m just playing terrible, to be honest,” Walker said. “Not much I can say, but I have to be better. I have to do better for this team on both ends of the floor. Have to make better decisions. Just have to make shots. Just overall, have to do better.”
Over the course of the final few games of the Raptors series, Toronto ran a box-and-one defense to limit the number of open looks Walker could get. Celtics head coach Brad Stevens credited the Raptors’ defense for Walker’s lack of high scoring.
Stevens credited Miami’s athleticism around the perimeter for slowing Walker down in Game 1.
“They’ve got great athletes out there,” Stevens said. “I think some of their guards are able to keep in front (of Walker) with their length and Bam (Adebayo) was switching a ton of pick-and-rolls all day. Bam’s a tremendous defender.”
Stevens seemed more concerned with the lack of ball movement during some possessions late in the game.
“We’re going to have to figure out, again, better ways to attack, especially late,” Stevens said. “I thought we really moved it at times and then we did get stagnant.”
One of the possessions where the Celtics held the ball until the end of the shot clock came with 40 seconds left. Walker, who did make a shot the possession before, held the ball for much of the possession before driving and getting his shot blocked by Jae Crowder. The shot clock expired and the Celtics failed to extend their 105-103 lead.
Walker agreed with his coach that the late game possessions weren’t the greatest.
“Definitely pounding the ball a lot,” Walker said. “At the end of the game that’s gonna happen sometimes. Just got to try and make good decisions. Just got to try to find a way to put the ball in the basket.
“We’ve got to be better. We’ve got to find a way to close these games out down the stretch.”
Walker’s passing performance wasn’t anywhere near as bad as his shooting was. He dished out six assists, more than his 4.8 per game regular season average. He averaged 6.1 assists and two turnovers per game in the Raptors series.
He made sure to credit Miami’s defense as a whole, but also stressed the importance of moving the ball around to get better looks.
“These guys are well-coached, Walker said. “They’ve got great talent on defense. We’ve just have to make plays for each other. Just try to make the best decisions possible out there on the court. Like I said, we’ll get to the film and I’ll learn from my mistakes and get better.”
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