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Celtics basically don’t have a basketball team

Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, Tristan Thompson, Romeo Langford, Robert Williams, Grant Williams all out for the Celtics.

I’m sure you know about Kemba’s knee (however, he started practicing this week) but Jayson Tatum is the latest player unavailable for the Celtics. He has to enter COVID-19 quarantine protocols after testing positive for the virus on Saturday. Robert Williams tested posted earlier last week which resulted in Tristan Thompson and Grant Williams having to quarantine due to contact tracing.

Those aren’t just schmucks who ride the pine, those are 3 of the starting 5 in Walker, Tatum and Thompson.

Tatum’s absence

From Kevin C. Cox, Getty Images

Basketball aside, health is first and foremost and we hope Jayson recovers quickly from the virus. With that said, Tatum is a huge loss to the Celtics. He’s playing at an elite level to start the season and a BIG reason the Celtics currently tied atop the East with the 76ers at 7-3. Tatum is averaging 27/7/4 per night! His 26.9 points per night is currently 8th in the NBA. Tatum is playing at a Top 10 level at the moment! Where is that offensive firepower going to come from while he’s out for the next 8 games? And those next 8 games are pretty important games for the Celtics as they play the Heat (tonight) and 2 against the 76ers. Games that will impact playoff standings come May.

If Tatum misses the full 14 days, that would mean his return would come Jan. 25 vs the Bulls in Chicago.

Bigger problem in the NBA

After completing a playoff season in a “bubble” where no players tested positive for the virus, the NBA is currently seeing a COVID outbreak. In the latest round of test results, released on Jan. 7, there were 4 positives out of the 498 players tested since Dec. 30. However, these positives impact more than just 4 players as contract tracing comes into play.

After playing the Celtics on Friday night, Bradley Beal has entered the NBA Health and Safety Protocols due to his contact with Tatum. Beal guarded Tatum most of the game and caught up with him after the game since they are childhood friends.

The 76ers had 5 players in COVID-19 protocols and 2 more players listed on the injury list yet the NBA mandated they face the Denver Nuggets. They lost 115-103 playing just 7 players.

Who is here to help?

From David Butler II, USA TODAY Sports

Jaylen Brown has been playing at an all-star caliber level. He will almost need to elevate that play with the absence of Tatum. Big ask for Brown.

Marcus Smart is known for bad shots but lately it’s been even worse. Bad shots early in the shot clock – not just in the middle of the game – but at crunchtime too. He’s also been poor on the defensive end which is unlike him. He’ll need to pick up the next couple of weeks.

Payton Pritchard will need to continue his stellar play and might be asked upon to score more. A true test for the rookie.

It’s Tacko Time! With most of the Celtics big men not available due to NBA Health and Safety protocols, we’ll see much more Tacko Fall. Tacko played 19 minutes with 4 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks in the victory vs the Wizards on Friday night. It’ll be fun to watch the 7-foot-6 center from UCF play quality minutes in these upcoming games.