BOSTON (CBS) — Jayson Tatum knows a thing or two about coming back from COVID-19. Now the Celtics star is helping a new teammate navigate those difficult waters.

We’ve heard all about Tatum’s recovery from COVID, which sidelined him for two weeks in January. It took Tatum a while to get back to his usual self, and he now has to use an inhaler before games to alleviate lingering issues with his lungs.

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It was not an easy road back for Tatum, but he’s now using his experience to help teammate Evan Fournier, who has been out since April 4 with COVID.

“I’ve talked to him quite a bit about it,” Tatum told reporters on Wednesday,” “He’s asked me things and I told him how I felt, and things to look out for when you get back.”

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Tatum said that returning to the floor after a lengthy layoff is the most difficult part.

“I think the toughest period is when you first get back. Obviously, because you’ve been sitting down for a while and because of the virus,” he said. “Hopefully he’ll be all right. I’m sure he will. But he knows I’m here for anything while he’s dealing with it.”

Fournier was cleared to return to Boston’s facilities on Wednesday and he took in the team’s practice. But head coach Brad Stevens said that the guard isn’t ready to return just yet and will miss his ninth straight game on Thursday night.

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Fournier, who averaged 11.5 points off 42 percent shooting in his four games with the Celtics, will have to pass a full cardiac evaluation before returning to action. On Thursday, Celtics president of basketball ops. Danny Ainge told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich that Fournier could be back as early as this weekend.

CBSBoston.com Staff