BOSTON (CBS) –It has been three weeks since Jayson Tatum returned from his bout with COVID-19. The Celtics star forward admitted Tuesday that he is still feeling some lingering effects from the virus.
Tatum was out for 16 days and missed five games after testing positive for COVID-19 following Boston’s Jan. 8 win over the Washington Wizards. He said after his return that he only felt some severe symptoms — fever and body aches — the first day after testing positive.
He returned to game action on Jan. 25 and in his 11 games back, he’s seen a dip in production despite an increase in usage. He was shooting 47.4 percent from the floor and 43.8 percent from three over 34.6 minutes before catching COVID, and has averaged 36 minutes and 42.7/36.9 shooting slips since his return. He’s played 38 minutes or more in six of those 11 contests, and while he’s put up points, something has been a bit off.
During his Tuesday afternoon Zoom session with reporters, Tatum admitted that he hasn’t always felt like himself since his return. He’s felt some in-game fatigue and there have been times where he’s experienced a shortness of breath.
“I think it messes with your breathing a little bit. I have experienced some games where, I don’t want to say I’m struggling to breathe but you get tired a lot quicker than normal,” said Tatum. “Running up and down the court a few times, it’s easier to get out of breath or get tired a little faster. I’ve noticed that since I had COVID.
“It’s gotten better since the first game I played, but I still deal with it from time to time,” he added. “It’s not like every game where I feel it the whole game. It’s certain stretches where my breathing is a little out of whack. I talked to the medical staff and coaching staff about it and it’s gotten better from the first game that I played. I guess it’s just a long process.”
Tatum has spoken to other players who had COVID and they also experienced similar issues upon their return.
“It kind of gets better over time,” said Tatum.
Tatum is coming off his worst game of the season, scoring just six points off 3-for-14 shooting in Boston’s embarrassing loss to the Wizards. He’s not using those linger effects of COVID as an excuse, because he took full responsibility for his performance — and that of the team — in Washington.
“Being a guy who gets a lot of credit when we do well and win and I’m playing well, you have to take it on the chin when things aren’t going great and you’re not playing how you should be. I take accountability for that,” he said. “I’ve got to be better. That’s what I expect of myself and my teammates expect of me. It’s a group effort and we all have to be better, but me in particular has to be better.”
The Celtics are in a massive slump, dropping 10 of their last 15 games to fall to .500 on the season. The team remains in good spirits that they’ll turn things around, but Tatum said they’re all well aware that they’re underachieving. Losses to the lowly Pistons and Wizards certainly paint a troubling picture for the team at the moment, and Tatum said Tuesday that everyone on the team needs to have a better sense of urgency or they’ll continue to be an average team — or worse.
“We’re just trying to figure it out. We’re obviously not where we want to be. We’ve lost a lot of games that we feel we shouldn’t have, and it’s on us to figure it out,” he said. “We’re the ones out there playing. Something has to click.”