Payton Pritchard sparks second unit in first Season Tournament win over Nets
Even if his shot isn’t falling, the Celtics guard has found other ways to impact winning.
With the Celtics hosting their first game of the In-Season Tournament at TD Garden on Friday night, they weren’t playing on their familiar parquet floor. Instead, each NBA stadium has a custom-made court for the IST. On television, it takes some time to get used to, but for Payton Pritchard, he stayed focused on the game.
“I’m not dribbling looking down. I’m looking at the players around me. I might get the ball stolen if I look down.”
After an 0-for-11 stretch over the last three games, the spark plug of the second unit scored 13 points off the bench, hitting two threes and dishing out three assists. And yes, with no turnovers.
“He changed the game for us tonight,” head coach Joe Mazzulla said of Pritchard. “It’s easy to look at the scoring of the bench when they’re not producing, but there’s so much other stuff that they do for us on a daily basis. Our defense has been tremendous for us on the floor and tonight, we got to see the other side of that.”
In addition to his scoring, Pritchard grabbed five rebounds including four off the offensive glass. It’s become a staple of the 6’1 guard’s fingerprints in a game.It’s just leaving an impact on the game,” Pritchard said. “But as far as shooting goes, I just went through a stretch where I wasn’t making shots. It’s happened a couple times in my career, through college and stuff, but shooting comes and goes. I’m sure I’ll get it back.”
PP has made just five of his first 27 three-pointers through the first eight games of the regular season, but he was the only Celtic with a positive plus/minus against the Nets (+9). Despite assurances from his head coach that regardless of his shooting, he’ll have ample opportunity on this roster after signing a four-year, $30 million extension this summer.
He admitted that his slow start has affected him mentally, but he’s eliminated all distractions and stayed off social media, knowing that disappointed fans would be critical of his play.
“It’s part of playing in Boston,” Pritchard said. “That’s why I like it. I wouldn’t want to play anywhere else.”This is part of the journey. These slumps, at the end of the day, will pay dividends and will make me a better player overall, Pritchard continued. “I’m not hitting shots, so in these last couple of games, I’ve had to find other ways to impact. It’s making me an all-around player and not just a shooter.”