Kemba Walker has worked his way back from a knee injury, and while still on a minutes restriction, he is hoping to increase his time on the floor in the playoffs. AP Photo/Winslow Townson

Part of why he became a Celtic was the atmosphere – the thought of competing in meaningful playoff games in front of one of the NBA’s legendary crowds.

But it occurred to Kemba Walker on Sunday that his first playoff experience as a Celtic is going to be nothing like that. The Celtics point guard, who has been on a knee maintenance program since rejoining the team, played in his first scrimmage Sunday and was struck by the sounds of his fellow players – and virtually nothing else.

If he hits a game-breaking 3-pointer against the Bucks or Sixers now, Walker will hear the polite chatter of teammates.

“It’s tough without the fans,” he admitted after the Celtics beat Phoenix in Sunday’s scrimmage, 117-103. “I definitely would have loved to experience the Garden in the playoffs. I know it’s one of the greatest atmospheres during the playoffs but like I said, you have to adjust and adapt to your situation.”

Adapting may mean appreciating what he has in the Celtics lineup even more, as when Jaylen Brown, hot out of the blocks in both scrimmages this week, scored 21 points in 27 minutes Sunday after opening with a 10-point first quarter.

Adapting will surely mean savoring young Jayson Tatum’s rise to stardom – like on Sunday with a 16-point performance, a more accurate indication of what’s to come than his 1 for 6 opening during Friday’s scrimmage loss to Oklahoma City.

“It is what is here,” said Walker. “As far as JB and JT, they work super hard. I know the work they put in over the hiatus. It’s going to pay off. Two special talents. JB, he hasn’t missed a beat and JT came in today super aggressive and he saw some shots fall. I’m happy for him and hopefully, he can continue to see the ball go in and continue where he left before all of this started.”

With one remaining scrimmage against Houston on Tuesday night before the Celtics open their seeding schedule on Friday against Milwaukee, it won’t be long before Walker gets to see it all start again.

By now Walker is dreaming about minutes restrictions, and only got to wet his beak against the Suns with six points in nine heavily managed minutes.

“I mean, yeah, I would love to just play and not care about no minutes restrictions or anything of that nature but obviously I can’t,” he said. “I got to be smart about things. At this point, it just is what it is. I want to be there for my teammates when we are in the playoffs. Hopefully, by then, the restrictions and things of that nature are completely off.”

Look for Walker to ramp up his minutes a bit more against the Rockets. Stevens was looking for signs of simple things out of his point guard Sunday, like explosiveness. The Celtics coach wasn’t disappointed.

“I thought he looked good, I thought he had his burst, I thought he played hard defensively,” said Stevens. “He created chaos on a couple of different plays. Offensively I thought he got to the rim and/or got his shot. So, encouraged by it.”

ROMEO LANGFORD continues to grow on everyone, in small sample sizes.

After missing the Oklahoma City scrimmage with a stomach ailment, Langford continued to kick up some dust by doing a little bit of everything with nine points in 12 minutes, including a pair of slick finishes at the rim. It’s easy to forget that he was the highest-drafted member of this season’s rookie class (14th pick) due to a spate of injuries. But he’s a smooth scorer who has been better than advertised defensively. Whether this nascent skills translate into playoff minutes remains to be seen.

“One of the things that Romeo has in large doses is feel for the game,” said Stevens. “He makes plays where he quick rips and drive, he knows when to cut, and he’s a a good slasher in that regard. And he’s just kinda figuring out where his best opportunities are at this level. Then, defensively, he’s been good. He’ll be in the mix to play, certainly certain matchups and certain games for sure, already. He’s built up for that over the last year, he’s done a good job.”

IT PROBABLY won’t take long for Stevens to shorten his rotation, but in the meantime every role player from Semi Ojeleye to rookies Tremont Waters and Carsen Edwards have made a case for more meaningful minutes. At least one is going to play once the playoffs commence.

“They’ve been pretty good in practice and I thought they were better today,” Stevens said of his young guys. “Every time you take the court or every time you don’t take the court you’re being evaluated for a future opportunity.

“And I think that’s a huge part of being a professional basketball player. It’s how you prepare, it’s how you go about your business, it’s how you play when you get an opportunity, and it’s how you respond to how you played. All that stuff matters, so it really is about we’ll go back and look to see if we’re playing better but then it’s about getting better tomorrow. Some guys are showing some things that I think can make our best players better. And those will be the guys that end up in the rotation: the guys that can bring out the best in our best players.”


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