In yesterday’s blowout win, the unthinkable happened: Jayson Tatum played under 30 minutes.
Clocking in at 29:31, it was a rare sight for Tatum, who is second in the NBA in minutes per game at 37.3. His high usage makes sense given his serious MVP campaign, but some have been clamoring for the team to watch his minutes as the regular season drags on.
Following the game last night, Bobby Manning and Josue Pavon talked more about Tatum’s usage.
“You don’t want to overstrain him during the regular season,” said Manning. “He’s talked about the wrist pain, finger ailments popping up, and feeling tired late in these games. The Celtics keep talking about his willingness to play extra minutes. That’s all valid. I think it shows he can do it when he needs to, but you don’t want him to do it.”
Following heavy minutes for Tatum last week thanks to back-to-back OT games, Joe Mazzulla stressed that if they don’t let the game get to the extra frame, he won’t see those extra minutes.
“I think there’s a little truth to that,” said Pavon. “I don’t think it’s just about overtime, it’s building a certain lead, building a cushion, and by the six or five minute mark, you don’t have to play the type of basketball where Tatum is out there for an entire second half like last week against the Lakers.”
Last night was an easy call for Mazzulla to sit Tatum the entire 4th quarter, joking postgame that he should’ve played the entire first half, one the Celtics led by as much as 34. He added that he isn’t concerned about Tatum’s usage over halfway through the season because of the work he’s been putting in.
Joe Mazzulla on Jayson Tatum playing so much minutes (only 29 min tonight)
"I should have played him the whole first half." ?
?Full Interview: https://t.co/txBnAS8CGy#Celtics #Nets #NBA
⚡️: @betonline_ag @HelloFresh @AthleticGreens @RocketMoneyApp pic.twitter.com/Nqlnne0pFY
— Celtics on CLNS (@CelticsCLNS) February 2, 2023
“I see him every single day. I see what he did all summer, all preseason, every single day,” said Mazzulla. “But yes, if you can get moments like this, you’re grateful for them and you take advantage of them.”
Following the game, Tatum said he wasn’t worried either, emphasizing his offseason work with trainer Nick Sang. “We had a lot of conversations this summer about mentally and physically preparing for a long season,” he said. “Lifting more, extra recovery days, changing my diet, all the things that can keep me on the floor. My body feels so much better at this point of the year than it did last season.”
It’s great to hear that from Tatum, but ultimately, the goal should still be to save his legs going into the playoffs.
“You don’t want him to burn out,” said Manning. “It’s great that these guys want to play, but the the staff has to step in at some point and say ‘time to rest.'”