Celtics' Jayson Tatum Won't Return vs. Nets in Game 2 Because of Eye Injury

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMay 26, 2021

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) drives around Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) during the first quarter of Game 2 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Tuesday, May 25, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Kathy Willens/Associated Press

Star Boston Celtics wing Jayson Tatum was poked in the right eye during Game 2 of his team's Eastern Conference playoff series against the host Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday, and he was ruled out for the remainder of the game.

The eye poke occurred with just under nine minutes left in the third quarter and Boston down 80-55.

Tatum missed a shot that was rebounded by Nets forward Kevin Durant. The C's forward then stripped Durant of the ball but got accidentally eye poked during his effort:

Celtics on NBC Sports Boston @NBCSCeltics

Jayson Tatum goes down on this play and then headed back to the locker room for further evaluation https://t.co/kKvIjsRpja

Tatum, 23, continued to improve in the 2020-21 season, averaging career highs in points (26.4 PPG), assists (4.3 APG) and rebounds (7.4 RPG). He shot 45.9 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from three, appearing in 64 games and leading Boston's offense. 

But the Celtics' season has been an unmitigated disaster almost from the jump. Kemba Walker was sidelined to begin the year and took time to get back into a rhythm. Tatum contracted COVID-19 and was affected by the aftereffects of the coronavirus throughout the season. 

"It's a process. It takes a long time. I take an inhaler before the game since I've tested positive," he told reporters in April. "This has kind of helped with that and opened up my lungs, and, you know, I never took an inhaler before. So that's something different."

But the cursed season hit its crescendo when Jaylen Brown was lost for the year in May with a torn ligament in his left wrist. The Celtics reached the play-in tournament and qualified for the playoffs after beating the Washington Wizards, but any wayward hopes fans may have been holding for a long postseason run essentially ended with that injury. 

It's hard to imagine anybody in Boston will look back fondly on the 2020-21 campaign.