BOSTON — Health and safety protocols giveth, and health and safety protocols taketh.
The Celtics will get a major boost via the return of Jayson Tatum on Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs. Boston’s star forward has missed the last four games while in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
But as Tatum (and Aaron Nesmith) return from COVID-related absences, Payton Pritchard — who has provided important minutes off the bench amid the Celtics’ COVID troubles — will enter into the protocols.
The team announced Pritchard’s status earlier Wednesday. The 23-year-old’s season averages are pretty misleading — he has 4.9 points through 13.5 minutes in 31 games, but in a six-game stretch from Dec. 18 to Dec. 29 when the Celtics were in the throes of their COVID outbreak, he logged 29.9 minutes per game and averaged 13.5 points.
If fans have any reservations about Tatum’s return — considering he had to use an inhaler during games after he was rocked by the virus last year — they can put them to rest. The 23-year-old told reporters Tuesday he has had an easier time with his second bout with COVID-19.
Head coach Ime Udoka told reporters prior to Wednesday’s game that there will be no strict limitations on Tatum or Nesmith as they return.
Elsewhere, Romeo Langford (non-COVID illness), Jabari Parker (dental work) and Robert Williams (right big toe sprain) all are available. Brodric Thomas remains out with low back pain.
Tip-off between Boston and San Antonio is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.