BOSTON — Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he was unaware that second-year forward Jayson Tatum had been dealing with shin discomfort before he exited Sunday’s game against the Orlando Magic with what the team termed a shin contusion.
Tatum looked hindered for much of the early portion of the first quarter and repeatedly grabbed at his left shin. He stayed in the game after the first TV timeout but soon signaled to the bench that he wanted to be subbed out.
Tatum limped off the court and directly to the locker room. The team later announced he would not return.
“Tatum had a shin contusion that, evidently, he had before the game and I didn’t know about it,” said Stevens. “He just said it felt a little off when he jumped so hopefully it’s nothing major but he’ll get checked out tonight and tomorrow and we’ll go from there.”
Pressed on why Tatum hadn’t revealed the injury, or why the information didn’t reach Stevens, the coach didn’t have a clear answer.
“It was never told to me as it was something that would keep him from playing,” said Stevens. “He did the whole shootaround [on Sunday] morning, he got warmed up, he did his whole workout, he felt great. I don’t know, for whatever reason, when he jumped in the first quarter, he felt it. I don’t know what it was.”
Tatum missed the first game of his career due to injury last month after revealing that he hadn’t told the team about a sore shoulder that had lingered during Boston’s west coast road trip. He missed another game last month with a lower back bruise suffered in a loss in Charlotte.
The bigger question is whether Tatum had revealed the shin concern to team doctors, and why that information never made it to Stevens. While the Celtics played their typical starters on Sunday, they might have erred on the side of caution with any such concerns.
While Stevens downplayed the injury, Lahey Hospital's Dr. Jessica Flynn, an NBC Sports Boston analyst, wrote on Twitter that, "Often the concern with a bruised feeling on the shin and discomfort with jumping is a stress fracture. Careful exam and MRI can clear things up.”
With the Celtics poised to rest their regulars during Tuesday’s season finale in Washington, the focus will turn to further testing for Tatum and Marcus Smart, who suffered a bruised oblique, and what the long-term prognosis is for two of Boston’s typical starters
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