BOSTON – Jayson Tatum strolled on to the court, with a basketball in hand, and began to dribble behind his back, between his legs and pulled up for a jumper that didn’t touch the rim as he splashed through the net without a ripple.
Looks like you’re planning to play?
“I hope so,” he told NBC Sports Boston, grinning.
Moments later, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens confirmed that barring an unexpected setback during warm-ups, Tatum would be back in the starting lineup tonight against the Charlotte Hornets.
Tatum suffered a sore right ankle injury in the first half of Boston’s 107-96 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.
He underwent X-rays that night and had an MRI test performed the following day with both coming back negative.
The news wasn’t as good for Boston’s Al Horford who did not play against the Lakers after entering the league’s concussion protocol following a blow in the second quarter of Boston’s 110-107 win at Atlanta on Monday.
Horford was able to continue playing against the Hawks and wound up just one assist shy of a triple-double by tallying 15 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.
Stevens said Horford would not play tonight, but he’s definitely progressing towards a return to action sooner rather than later.
Initially ruled out for the Hornets game, the Celtics upgraded him to questionable shortly before tip-off before ultimately deciding to sit him out for a second straight game.
This is the second time in as many seasons that Horford missed time due to a concussion. Last season, he was sidelined for nine games.
“Al is doing way better,” Stevens said. “Progressing really well. Has gone through all the protocol at this point but we’re going to hold him out tonight.”
So the starting lineup tonight will be Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown in the backcourt, with the frontcourt consisting of Tatum, Marcus Morris and Aron Baynes.