Celtics

Pritchard Filling Boston’s Long-Time Need

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Throughout the season, it seems that no team in the league has dealt with more injuries and setbacks than the Boston Celtics.

With key players missing games basically every night, the Celtics have not been lucky enough to mitigate the injury bug.

Due to these circumstances, the C’s were reeling on both sides of the floor. Likewise, their offensive production took a hit when Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker missed time. Brad Stevens looked to rookie point guard Payton Pritchard to mainly alleviate the team’s offensive woes. Additionally, Payton played a pivotal role on defense filling in for Marcus Smart.

PAYTON’S BREAKOUT GAME

Initially, the 26th overall pick did not have any games that jumped off the stat sheet. In his eighth career NBA game, the former Oregon Duck scored 23 points while dishing eight assists in a victory against the Toronto Raptors. In this game, fans and players around the league recognized the talent of Pritchard.

Likewise, he gained the trust of his coaches and veteran teammates.

At that point, Pritchard proved his ability to be a viable cog in the rotation with the potential to step up at any given moment. His collegiate game has translated well into the NBA despite not being as ball-dominant with the Celtics. “Fast PP” looks to have found a niche on Boston where he excels.

Pritchard’s Recent Play

After missing time in January and February with an MCL sprain, Pritchard returned and did not skip a beat. Especially with Smart and Walker sidelined of late, consistent play from Pritchard was essential for the team’s success. A solid backup point guard had been a need for Boston for years, and they may have found their answer with the rookie.

Not only does Pritchard make an impact on offense, he makes a difference on defense as well. When it comes to Boston’s defense, many think of Smart and his stingy play. Fast PP makes his fair share of stops and steals as well, however, adding a defensive prowess that makes him that much more vital.

Another aspect of his game that may be overlooked is his playmaking ability. Even though he is not the team’s primary ball handler, he does an excellent job of creating for others while caring more about overall team success. Pritchard displays his unselfish style by dishing assists to his teammates while hustling for loose balls.

April 27th was another career night for Pritchard, who earned a new high in points, minutes, free throws and shots attempted with Tatum, Walker and Robert Williams III sidelined. He scored 28 points off the bench in the loss.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Pritchard’s impact should not be overshadowed by the star power of the Jays or other big names on the roster. His presence elevates the team and provides what had been missing over the last few years.

With injuries often plaguing the roster, Payton Pritchard picked the right time to break out. His stellar play adds to an already-loaded young Boston core that looks to find success both now and in the future. Pritchard still needs work to become a full-time starter, but he is well on his way to contribute for years to come.

Follow us on Twitter @CelticsLead for the latest Celtics news and insight. 

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