Nine years ago Kemba Walker put his team on his back and led it to a championship.
The Celtics guard is giving off that vibe once again.
Walker continued to be one of -- if not THE -- driving force for a Celtics team that is now moving on to the Eastern Conference semifinals after beating Philadelphia 110-106 in Game 4 Sunday afternoon.
For a second straight game, Walker was the best player on the floor, this time scoring 32 points, making 12 of 13 free throws along the way. It followed point totals of 22, 24 and 30 points the previous three games.
While there was some concern Walker wouldn't be able to live up to the four-year, $141 million sign-and-trade deal constructed by the Celtics in the offseason due to a balky knee, this sure seemed like the same kind of dominant postseason player that paced the University of Connecticut to postseason glory in 2011. It marks the first time as a professional the guard has seen the second round of the playoffs.
That season, the then-Junior first led UConn to a Big East championship after scoring 130 points in five games in five days. That paved the way for the Huskies' NCAA title run, beating Brad Stevens' Butler team in the finals thanks in large part to Walker, the eventual tournament MVP.
The recent performance by Walker has not only been a welcome sight for the Celtics considering the opportunity close out the Sixers in a hurry, but it has tempered the loss of Gordon Hayward. With the Celtics' forward out four weeks following his Game 1 ankle sprain, the C's have had to lean their Big 3 for the brunt of the offensive load.
Walker did get more help this time around from the other two key elements of the Celtics' roster, with Jayson Tatum bouncing back with an economical 28 points on 10-for-18 shooting from the floor. Jaylen Brown also shot well from the floor, going 6-for-15 on the way to 16 points.
The tide turned after the Celtics' 18-2 run following a gruesome fall by the Sixers' Tobias Harris with 2:40 left in the third quarter.
The Celtics now wait to see if the Raptors are able to close out their series-sweep of Brooklyn, with the two teams playing Sunday night.