Jayson Tatum scored 30 or more points in nine of his last 13 games before the league was shut down by the coronavirus pandemic. Tony Dejak/Associated Press

If there’s one form of training that lends itself to isolation, where the basketball player in question doesn’t have a basket at home to keep shooting, it’s weight training.

As such for all of the questions Jayson Tatum now answers about improvements in his game, the added muscle in his shoulders speaks for itself.

“Yeah, I did,” he said of the weight gain. “But it’s not for public knowledge. I can’t tell everybody my secrets.”

Secrets, perhaps, that will apply especially well now when opponents pick up where they left off in mid-March, and continue to throw traps and blitzes at the Celtics forward. Despite that extra attention, Tatum still scored 30 or more points in nine of his last 13 games, and shot just a hair under 44% during the same stretch.

It’s not a surprise, then, that this young star’s team is one of the favorites to lap the field once playoff games begin in mid-August.

“I worked on my body, just trying to maintain my weight, try to maintain strength, keep my muscle mass and body fat the same,” he said. “I did a pretty good job of that. And I guess just trying to polish up on everything. I can get better at everything. So I guess the answer is just trying to take it up another level, honestly.”


Asked last week if it was true that he hit 90% of his shots on the team’s first day back, Tatum didn’t deny the possibility.

“Hmm. It might be (true),” he said. “There wasn’t no defense out there. I would hope I could make shots when nobody is guarding me.”

That will slowly change now that team practices are underway. Fortunate for now, anyway, none of the Celtics have tested positive for COVID-19 in the early going, and have started practice as a whole unit.

Little wonder that Tatum likes what he hears from the pundits, as well as what he sees in his returning teammates.

“I think that’s the mentality you should have,” Tatum said of the confidence this team has in making a realistic run at the title.

“I’ve never been on a team in my life where I didn’t think, whether it was high school or college or since I have been on the Celtics, where I didn’t think we should settle for like third place,” he said. “I always thought, that’s why we played, to be the last team standing, so I think automatically we have that mindset, and we have a realistic chance. We have the talent, the experience, the depth, and we compete with the best of them. We scrap, we play defense, and our mindset is to never give up. We have a lot of guys who have been through a lot with each other, been through a lot of battles over the last couple years, so we hold each other accountable, trust each other and we’re going to fight til there’s zero on the clock.”

And in the meantime, Tatum looks for ways to savor life in the Orlando bubble. He’s trying to convince more of his teammates to golf, for instance.

“We ain’t got nothing else to do besides hang out together, play cards, play a lot of golf,” he said. “I’m trying to get some of the guys into golf and make the most out of it.

“I think it’s what I expected (in the bubble)” he said. “It’s kind of like when I was in high school and I was at the McDonald’s All-American Game or the Jordan Brand game. They’ve got players lounge, meal rooms, everybody’s in the hotel, you see all the guys from other teams. It’s kind of like I’m in high school again. I mean, it’s cool. We’re going to be all right.”

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