Several role players are back in action for the Boston Celtics as the team returned to practice today. After barely hanging on in a stretch that saw a five-tweet long injury report, the Celtics finally have full health on the horizon ahead of a favorable January stretch with the easiest schedule in the NBA to look forward to for the rest of the year.
Coach Udoka says of JT: "He’s the type of guy that wants to come back and get right back into his role and not be limited ... As long as his conditioning and his wind is fine, he can get right back to playing at the level he was."https://t.co/mUo7bfXD07— Boston Celtics (@celtics) January 4, 2022
Jayson Tatum was a game-time decision against the Orlando Magic on Sunday evening, and after doing a warm up, the team/Tatum opted against playing. Now that he’s got a practice under him, he’ll likely be able to play as the Spurs come to town. Enes Kanter Freedom, like Tatum, has also missed the last several games due to the Health and Safety Protocols. With his return to practice, the Celtics will have more frontcourt depth than they’ve had in several weeks.
Finally, Robert Williams III missed Sunday’s game with a right big toe sprain after his career-best performance in Friday afternoon’s win against the Phoenix Suns, in which he posted a triple-double on perfect shooting from the floor. Hopefully, the team enters a long stretch of good health for Williams who’s been a huge bright spot for the team this year.
Jayson Tatum says Rob Williams “is a huge part of our team and will play a huge part in our success.”— Boston Celtics (@celtics) January 4, 2022
Aaron Nesmith remains in the Health and Safety Protocols.
As coach Ime Udoka mentioned, Jayson Tatum can jump right back into his role as the go-to player for the Celtics. Hopefully unlike his last bout with COVID-19, Tatum doesn’t feel the long-term effects of the illness that left him needing an inhaler before games until the end of the last season.
Jayson Tatum: "I feel a lot better. My quarantine was shorter. My body feels a lot better ... than last year when I first came back."— Souichi Terada (寺田惣一) (@SouichiTerada) January 4, 2022
Tatum also used his post-practice media ability to discuss Joe Johnson’s departure, understanding that it was a business decision more than anything. He noted that he would have loved to keep Johnson around. Additionally, Tatum had high praise for Jaylen Brown, saying, “Obviously, a big night from JB and we needed it. I think him playing the way he did, especially late, I think the team kind of fed off of that.”
The Celtics have underperformed this year, but after limping through a nightmare December that would have been tough even without all of the COVID absences, the Celtics enter January with only two +.500 teams on the schedule (Miami, Chicago). If the Celtics want to prove that they’re a real team, they need to start racking up some wins before Brad Stevens has to make decisions with the trade deadline approaching on February 10th. Having a full squad available would definitely help, and the Celtics are finally on track to do so as the team remains four losses back behind the fourth seed.
The Boston Celtics take on the San Antonio Spurs Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. EST.