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Boston Celtics must address slow starts, says Kemba Walker

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Saturday 9 November 2019 22:04, UK

Kemba Walker goes airborne to throw a pass in the Celtics' preseason win over the Hornets
Image: Kemba Walker goes airborne to throw a pass in the Celtics' preseason win over the Hornets

Kemba Walker says the Boston Celtics will aim to address their slows starts when they visit the San Antonio in Saturday night's NBA Primetime game against the Spurs.

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The Celtics own the best record in the Eastern Conference (6-1) with their only defeat coming in their season opener at Philadelphia.

Although they have won six straight games since that reverse, they had to overcome a double-digit first-quarter deficit to beat the Milwaukee Bucks and needed a 36-24 fourth-quarter rally to top the Toronto Raptors.

Kemba Walker of the Boston Celtics reacts in the third quarter of a gem against the Milwaukee Bucks 0:18
Kemba Walker sent Giannis Antetokounmpo the wrong way deep in the fourth quarter in Boston's win over Milwaukee

Walker, who joined the Celtics on a four-year $141m contract in the summer, believes 'Gang Green' must break the habit of making slow starts to games.

"It's something that has not been going our way," he said. "I think it's really good that we find a way to stay in these games and still compete when we start slow.

Kemba Walker watches a video tribute honouring his time as a member of the Charlotte Hornets 1:08
Boston Celtics point guard Kemba Walker was emotional after receiving a warm welcome from his former team the Charlotte Hornets

"But that has to change. It can't keep up this whole season. Teams that take advantage of that, it can be tough for us. We can't play catch-up the whole season.

"I've got to set the tone, especially being one of the leaders on the team. I've got to just get my guys ready to start the game. Even me, it starts with me a lot. I've got to have better starts as well."

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Walker, who spent his first eight NBA seasons with the Charlotte Hornets, says frustration over offensive problems could be the cause of the Celtics' early game issues, but he thinks the solution starts at the opposite end of the court.

"I think for us, it starts on the offensive end. I think it gets in our heads, he said. "It starts to get frustrating. We've missed shots early and it trickles down to our defense.

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"We just have to be better. We're not going to make shots all the time. We can't control the offense all the time, but we can control the defense with our energy, so that's where we've got to start."

With Jaylen Brown missing several games due to illness, Walker shared backcourt duties with Marcus Smart in Boston's wins over New York and Cleveland. What changed for him when he started alongside Smart?

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"Nothing. Just knowing I have a warrior beside me, a guy that's going to get after it with everything's he's got on the court. I love playing alongside him," Walker said.

"He's an awesome team-mate, really fun to be around, really fun to play with. His passion for the game is second to none. I just know that I've got somebody that's a warrior, man. I know we're definitely going to go as he goes."

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