All-Star forward Jayson Tatum has missed each of the last three games after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this month. In his absence, the Boston Celtics have amassed an underwhelming 1-2 record, including a two-game skid.
On the heels of an eight-point loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, Boston has now dropped to third in the East. They will look to turn things around on Friday by evening their mini-series with the Sixers, potentially with the help of Tatum.
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Tatum ’50-50′ for Friday; Celtics to Limit his Minutes in Return?
Coach Brad Stevens joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Zolak & Bertrand” on Wednesday for his weekly interview, providing an update on Tatum’s status moving forward.
“Jayson was able to go do his testing and everything else — all the physiological testing you have to do, yesterday,” Stevens said. “So he’ll be able to be on the court in Boston a little bit today.”
“I don’t know what that means over the next couple of days,” Stevens said. “I think that there would be a chance that he would join us for Friday, but I would say at best that’s 50-50.”
When Tatum does ultimately return to action, it appears he’ll be doing so with a lighter workload. Stevens explained that due to COVID-19 protocol, there will likely be a ramp-up period before having the 22-year-old star shoulder his typical workload.
“Like (Robert Williams), it’s not going to be — he hasn’t done anything for two weeks,” Stevens said. “We’re not allowed to have him do anything and he’s not supposed to do anything active.”
“So you have to ramp him back up in some ways,” he added. “I don’t think it’s prudent to play a guy several games in a row for 35 minutes per game if he’s been inactive for a couple weeks.”
Danny Ainge on Tatum: ‘He Seems in a Good Place’
President of Basketball Operations, Danny Ainge, echoed Stevens’ concerns of throwing too much Tatum’s way.
“With him being out for a couple of weeks and not being able to do anything while he had COVID, it’s just tough,” Ainge stated while speaking with Toucher & Rich on Thursday morning. “We’re just being cautious and careful with Jayson. Yeah, it’s a conversation that he has with our medical staff and with our trainers, and they’ll make that determination.”
While Ainge wouldn’t go as far as Stevens to pinpoint a potential return date, he does expect to see his star player back on the court in the very near future.
“Jayson, he looks good,” Ainge proclaimed. “I’m on my way in to watch him work out right now and talk to him and see how he’s doing. He seems in a good place.”
“I don’t know when he’s coming back,” Ainge said. “But I’m guessing that within the next few games he’ll be back playing. Being himself.”
In 10 games this season, Tatum checks in as Boston’s leading scorer, averaging 26.9 points per game, which is good enough for seventh-most league-wide.
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