Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker Will Not Play for Celtics vs. Thunder Due to Injuries

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorApril 26, 2021

Boston Celtics' Jayson Tatum plays against the Orlando Magic during the first half on an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March 21, 2021, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

The Boston Celtics will be without Jayson Tatum (left ankle impingement) and Kemba Walker (left side strain) when they take on the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night.

Walker exited Sunday's loss to the Charlotte Hornets after experiencing "weird pain" in his side:

Celtics on NBC Sports Boston @NBCSCeltics

Kemba Walker heads to the locker room clutching his left side https://t.co/yPWUcsSoLR

Walker is averaging 18.2 points and 5.0 assists in 39 appearances this year. Tatum, on the other hand, has averaged 25.7 points on 45.3 percent shooting, 7.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game for the C's this season. 

Tatum is in his fourth NBA season after Boston took him third overall in the 2017 NBA draft. The C's have made the playoffs in each of his first three seasons, reaching the Eastern Conference Finals twice.

This year has been more of a challenge for the Celtics, who have battled numerous injuries (notably Walker and Marcus Smart) and struggled defensively.

Tatum has still excelled on an individual level, although, and his presence is paramount for the C's to turn this season around.

Unfortunately, the 23-year-old will now miss time once again, as he previously missed five games in January after testing positive for COVID-19.

Tatum noted in mid-February that he was still dealing with problems related to his diagnosis, per ESPN's Tim Bontemps:

"I think it messes with your breathing a little bit. I have experienced some games where, I don't want to say [I was] struggling to breathe, but, you know, you get fatigued a lot quicker than normal.

"Just running up and down the court a few times, it's easier to get out of breath or tired a lot faster. I've noticed that since I've had COVID. It's just something I'm working on.

"It's gotten better since the first game I played, but I still deal with it from time to time."

Tatum also missed a March 22 game against the Memphis Grizzlies due to a non-COVID-related illness.

Grant Williams—who is in his second year out of Tennessee—and Semi Ojeleye could be among the players to see an uptick in playing time with Tatum out. Meanwhile, Smart, Payton Pritchard and Jaylen Brown will need to take on bigger roles in the backcourt with Walker sidelined.