Report: Jayson Tatum likely out, Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart to play

With only 23 games left in their regular season schedule, the third-ranked Boston Celtics have emerged as a contender in the Eastern Conference.

But like other teams around this time of the season, the Celtics also have some injuries and illnesses to work through.

According to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe, star forward Jayson Tatum will likely be out (illness) Tuesday in the team’s game against the Brooklyn Nets. Marcus Smart, who has also battled an illness, will play. Kemba Walker, who has missed the past five games because of knee soreness, also will play.

The Celtics and Nets will tip off in TD Garden at 7:30 p.m. EST.

If Tatum doesn’t play, then the Celtics will be without their best player. Tatum went on a scoring tear in February, with his potential starting to shift into tangible results. He became the fifth player in Celtics history to average 30 points a game in one month, averaging 30.7 points.

Walker’s return bodes well for the Celtics because he is important for the offense’s overall success.

Though Boston has a plethora of guards and wings who can score, Walker’s ability to carve up defenses with his handle makes him a tough cover. Walker is the Celtics’ second-leading scorer, averaging 21.8 points a game on 42.9% shooting.

Smart is the leader of the Celtics’ defense, but he’s having one of his best seasons scoring the ball. He is scoring a career-high 12.9 points a game and shooting 35.5% from the 3-point line, which is currently the second-highest mark of his career.

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