The Boston Celtics made it all the way through the playoffs and to the NBA Finals with Jayson Tatum playing through a right shoulder injury. Although he didn’t miss any games, Tatum was still favoring his right arm and showing signs of discomfort.
Since the playoffs and Finals, there hasn’t been anything reported on Tatum’s apparent shoulder injury in the few weeks since the season has been over. It makes you wonder what really is going on with Tatum and his shoulder.
There were a handful of times where Ime Udoka referred to Tatum’s shoulder discomfort as only being a “stinger”. But it definitely appeared to be more than a “stinger” as the Finals progressed on and the pain never went away.
The fact that this “stinger” was recurring leads me to believe that it could be something more serious that needs to be taken care of sooner than later. I’m not by any means suggesting Tatum needs surgery, but I wouldn’t rule out all procedures regarding his shoulder.
Between the uncharacteristic mistakes in regards to the high volume of turnovers, along with missing his “no-brainer” shots, it’s fair to assume that the lingering shoulder injury had an impact on Tatum’s overall performance in the Finals.
This is what Tatum said about what happened in the moment of his injury in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals:
“My neck got caught in a weird position. Obviously, I went down. I felt some pain and discomfort in my neck and down my arm. Went and got it checked on. I started to gain some feeling back, got it checked by the doctors and decided to give it a go.”
After the Finals, both Udoka and Brad Stevens said that Tatum will be fine and just needs to rest. They chalked it up to the high amount of basketball he’s played in the last few years- which is the highest in the NBA.
Hopefully with the amount of depth Stevens has built around his core, Tatum won’t need to play in every minute of the game, despite wanting to. It’s evident the toll of the season wore him down by the time they landed in the Finals.
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Photo Credit: Matthew J. Lee, Globe Staff