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What Celtics Front Office Wished Jayson Tatum Did Differently

In this era of the NBA, teams try to build in rest for their most important players, looking to keep them fresh for pivotal games in the playoffs.

And while most stars in the league adhere to load management guidelines, Celtics star Jayson Tatum pushes back against it despite Boston’s brass wanting the ultra-talented forward to get more rest during the regular season.

“I saw I played the most minutes in the NBA last year,” Tatum recently told The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach. “Obviously I’m fortunate and blessed to not have had many injuries, but I do pride myself on always being available.

“The front office gets, not mad, but they definitely wish I would rest a little more and sit some games out. There’s been times where two weeks in advance we talk about, ‘Let’s take this game off.’ And I’ll be like ‘All right.’ Then the day comes and I’ll be like, ‘(Expletive) that.'”

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Tatum played in 76 regular-season games a season ago — the third-highest mark of his career — which was more than any of the four other players who shared First Team All-NBA honors with the 24-year-old.

Tatum has seen significant more game action than other All-Stars from his own draft class, too. He has played over 20 more games than Donovan Mitchell, Bam Adebayo and Jarrett Allen in their respective careers. And that doesn’t factor in the high volume of minutes Tatum has logged in the postseason.

But Tatum wants to be out there on a nightly basis. Tatum’s durability has shone through to make that happen while his competitiveness drives him to not want to take any games off as well.

“I think that’s just something that’s the kid in me,” Tatum told Himmelsbach. “I always dreamed about playing in the NBA and never want to take that for granted. I just love playing basketball. There’s days they make me not work out. Sometimes I get mad when (Celtics interim head coach) Joe (Mazzulla) takes me out of the game. I just always want to play.”

It’s hard not to admire Tatum’s willingness to suit up for as many games as possible, especially when that goes against the recent trend established by the NBA’s elite players.

But Tatum might need to be saved from himself in this regard as he faded significantly last year in the NBA Finals, with the cumulative minutes and miles wearing him down on the league’s biggest stage. The Celtics stepping in and forcing him to sit out seemingly meaningless games throughout the winter months should benefit Tatum in the long run.

Wednesday night could be an example of that as Tatum popped up on the injury report with a left ankle sprain. He’s already “managing” a left wrist injury as well. He was officially listed as questionable but his appearance at morning shootaround made it seem like he’ll be on the floor to face Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks at TD Garden.

It seems like a good time to give Tatum, who hasn’t missed a game yet this season and is playing a career-high 37.2 minutes per game, some rest, but that’s something the Celtics star will have to get used to.

“I guess it’s a good problem to have,” Tatum said. “I always want to play. I’m certain I probably won’t play all 82.”

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