PHILADELPHIA — Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, who has been sidelined since testing positive for COVID-19 on Jan. 9, is no longer in the NBA’s health and safety protocol and could play as soon as Friday against the 76ers.
Coach Brad Stevens said Wednesday that Tatum completed a brief workout in Boston on Tuesday and was expected to have one on Wednesday, too.
“He feels great,” Stevens said. “He’s out of the protocol, but now he has to ramp back up the activity.”
The Celtics had three games in a row postponed because of COVID-19 protocols after Tatum registered his positive test nearly two weeks ago and have played three games since then, including Wednesday’s 117-109 loss against Philadelphia, the first of a two-game set.
Center Robert Williams, meanwhile, returned Wednesday after testing positive for COVID-19 when the Celtics returned from Miami on Jan. 6. He did not get into Wednesday’s game, however. Williams said Tuesday that he experienced symptoms such as fatigue and night sweats during his bout with the virus.
It’s unclear if Tatum has had symptoms, but Stevens said he might need a bit longer to work on his conditioning since he was averaging a team-high 34.6 minutes per game.
“When Jason gets back we’ll have to manage those minutes appropriately,” Stevens said, “and just the idea of being inactive for 14 days I think is a challenge.”
This season Tatum is averaging 26.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game.
Second-year wing Romeo Langford, who has been out all year after undergoing offseason surgery to repair a ligament in his right wrist, completed a light shooting and dribbling workout prior to Wednesday’s game.
Point guard Kemba Walker, who made his season debut on Sunday’s loss to the Knicks, will remain on a minutes restriction for the Celtics as he works his way back after missing the start of the season with a left knee issue.
“I’m guessing that he will get more and more angry with me as the longer we go with the minutes restriction,” Stevens said before Walker chipped in 19 points in Wednesday’s loss. “The other day I think he was happy to be out there. And obviously he wasn’t happy with the result of the game, none of us were.”
Brown helping out
Jaylen Brown is averaging a career high 3.8 assists per game this season. He tied his career high with eight assists in just 25 minutes in the Celtics’ win over the Magic last Friday.
Stevens said the fifth-year forward’s growth as a distributor has been obvious.
“I think he’s really worked on it over the years and worked on all the different reads that a game presents,” Stevens said. “He’s seeing a lot more attention, so there’s a lot more opportunity to make those plays, too. That’s the other thing. When teams start loading up on you, you start seeing blitzes occasionally in pick-and-rolls, you start seeing more help off of your screening actions, the right play is to make the next right pass. That’s the other part of it. As you get to be a better scorer, in my opinion, your assist numbers should go up, because that will mean you’re drawing a lot more attention.”
Brown is averaging a career-high 25.8 points per game.