The Boston Celtics couldn’t have requested for a a lot better begin to the season. They at present lay declare to the perfect document within the NBA at 35-12 and have received 9 video games in a row. Nevertheless it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows for everybody on the roster.
Payton Pritchard was an integral member of Boston’s rotation throughout his rookie season, and in his sophomore yr with the staff, he labored arduous to earn that spot again. To this point this yr, he hasn’t had the identical luck. However regardless of failing to earn constant minutes, he’s stayed prepared, and when his quantity was known as towards the Toronto Raptors, he answered but once more.
“I’m completely satisfied for Payton,” head coach Joe Mazzulla advised Souichi Terada of MassLive. “This league will be unforgiving at instances. You must be strong-minded, you started working arduous, you bought to be affected person. Payton’s all of these issues. I’ve at all times advised him, every time it’s his time, I belief him utterly. He was nice tonight.”
Boston walked into their Friday night time contest towards Toronto with out Jayson Tatum, and popping out of halftime, they have been lacking Marcus Sensible and Robert Williams, too. This supplied Pritchard with an enormous alternative, and he made essentially the most of it.
He logged 25:53 of court docket time and completely lit up the Raptors. The 25-year-old guard ended the night time with 12 factors, two rebounds, and two assists off the bench, capturing 4-of-7 from the sphere, all of which have been three-point makes an attempt. And whereas that stat line is spectacular by itself, it was the timing of his buckets that stood out.
Six of Pritchard’s seven three-point makes an attempt got here within the fourth quarter alone, together with all 4 of his makes.
Toronto was up by as many as 11 factors within the third quarter, however by the fourth, Boston had taken a lead and was desperately trying to fend off the scrappy Raptors. With Sensible, Tatum, and Williams sidelined, Pritchard gave them the increase they wanted to do exactly that.
Pritchard’s largest second got here with roughly 1:30 to go within the fourth. The sport was tied at 103-103, and Jaylen Brown managed the ball on the prime of the important thing. Grant Williams and Pritchard set screens for him earlier than Pritchard leaked out to the wing. Brown dished him the ball, and he nailed the shot, giving the Celtics a three-point lead. These have been Boston’s closing factors of the competition.
With the ever-changing position Pritchard has been and goes to be pressured to play on this Celtics staff, having the suitable perspective and degree of toughness is essential. And in keeping with Pritchard, that toughness is the primary purpose he’s gotten to the place he’s.
“We’re a bunch of powerful dudes and, for me, I wouldn’t be within the place I’m at the moment with out having a troublesome mindset,” Pritchard advised Terada. “Lots of people have a look at me and I’m (a) 6-foot-1 white American guard, loads of us aren’t there. So we gotta be powerful and convey it day by day.”