After over two weeks away from basketball, Jayson Tatum returned to the floor in a Celtics’ 119-103 blowout of the Bulls. Jayson Tatum had tested positive for COVID-19 on January 9th and per the NBA’s health and safety protocols, had to be quarantined for at least ten days without physical activity. While the team was in Philadelphia last week for a two-game set with the 76ers, Tatum spent that time ramping up and getting back into game shape. He was rusty in Chicago, but that’s to be expected after such a long layoff.
The good news is Tatum is back after what sounded like a stressful few days dealing with the coronavirus. “Mentally--I can’t even lie--it was tough especially your initial reaction once you find out,” Tatum said about testing positive for COVID. “I don’t know if it’s panic, but you definitely worry because of everything you read about it and hear about how many people it’s affected and how many people didn’t make it.
Especially the first four days or so, for lack of a better word, it bothered me. It was on my mind. I was thinking, “do I feel OK? Do I not feel OK?” It was in my mind. “Can I smell this? Does my chest hurt?” Or was I just overthinking? And then you’re in lockdown for two weeks, so mentally it can be tough, especially at first.”
In his first game back, Tatum put up a ho-hum 24 points on 10-for-21 shooting (3-of-6 from behind the arc) with 4 rebounds and 5 assists. Not considering the circumstances, that stat line would look fairly normal for a late January tilt in the middle of a grueling NBA season.
He looked noticeably thinner in his first action since dueling with good friend Bradley Beal at The Garden. The shot-making was there, but there were times when he looked a step slow and gassed after over 31 minutes of play.
“The stretch at the end of the game, (Tatum) wasn’t happy with me,” Brad Stevens said after he pulled Tatum out of the game with just under two and a half minutes left and a 14-point lead. “That’s a surefire way of knowing you’re the coach when you take a guy out that’s on a minutes restriction. He’s going to make some sort of unhappy gesture your way. I was extremely happy with how he came out and played. I thought that that’s not easy to do.”
Deuce has spoken, the curls stay pic.twitter.com/cVLPnvJ2b7— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) January 26, 2021
With his return coupled with Kemba Walker’s, the Celtics are finally healthy more or less and they could have their full rotation back Wednesday night in San Antonio. The Spurs game on Monday night was postponed because neither they nor the New Orleans Pelicans could field enough players due to health and safety protocols.