How Tatum's bout with COVID has changed his pregame routine


Jayson Tatum is three months removed from contracting COVID-19, but the disease isn't exactly in his rearview mirror.

The Boston Celtics star said Tuesday he's started using an inhaler before games to help his breathing since coming back from a bout with COVID that sidelined him from Jan. 9 to Jan. 24.

"I take an inhaler before the game since I’ve tested positive," Tatum told reporters after Boston's 116-115 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. "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. I for sure feel better now than I did a month ago."

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Tatum observed in February that COVID has impacted his conditioning level and that he's gotten fatigued more easily since returning to action.

"It's easier to get out of breath or tired a lot faster," Tatum said at the time. " ... It's gotten better since the first game I've played, but I still deal with it from time to time."

Tatum's recent play would suggest COVID isn't impacting his game: The 23-year-old is averaging a ridiculous 34.5 points and 9.8 rebounds over his last four contests and just earned NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week thanks in part to a career-high 53 points on Friday night. He dropped 32 points in Tuesday's win over Portland that included a dagger 3-pointer in the final seconds.

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But while Tatum said he's "very close" to 100 percent, he still feels differently than he did before contracting the coronavirus.

“I’ve talked to guys that said it took months for them to kind of catch their breath, and get their wind back. And I think I’m kind of on the same track with that,” Tatum said Tuesday.

"I for sure feel better. I don’t feel necessarily the same before I got it when I was playing. I definitely know there’s a difference. But I feel pretty good."

Tatum is among a number of athletes across several sports who are dealing with long-term effects of COVID. But the two-time All-Star appears to be improving on the conditioning front and has found a way to manage his symptoms in the meantime.

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