Saturday, January 16, 2021
Home Sport How Payton Pritchard has broken through Celtics' rookie wall

How Payton Pritchard has broken through Celtics’ rookie wall


There was no shortage of #Payton #Pritchard highlights on #Tuesday night. #Enough so that #Jaylen #Brown dubbed him “the G.O.A.T.” after #Pritchard sparked #Boston’s rally from a 17-point second-half deficit for a 116-111 triumph over the #Indiana #Pacers.

#But the moment that hammered home why #Pritchard has so quickly earned the trust of #Celtics coach #Brad #Stevens, breaking through a rookie wall that has slowed up many a first-year player, came during another early season crunch-time cameo in which #Pritchard showed exactly why he’s nicknamed #FastPP.

#Celtics-Pacers #Overreactions: C’s have long way to go despite comeback win

#With #Boston clinging to a four-point lead with under five minutes to play, #Pritchard accelerated past #Victor #Oladipo and, when #Myles #Turner shuffled over to help, the rookie lobbed the ball at the rim for #Tristan #Thompson. #Alas, TT was a little late leaving the ground for the lob from PP, and TJ #Warren was able to punch the ball away for a steal.

- Advertisement -

#Pritchard’s heels were essentially on the baseline as #Oladipo broke out from above the charge circle. #With a series of powerful steps, #Pritchard closed the gap by midcourt and, when #Oladipo slowed to time his approach to the basket, the rookie lunged and poked the ball free.

#Marcus #Smart retrieved it. The action went back the other way, with the ball quickly back in the hands of #Pritchard, and, despite being thin on numbers, #Pritchard’s threat of attacking the basket in transition had three defenders shuffling to his side of the floor. The rookie zipped the ball across to #Smart for an open 3-pointer and a much more comfortable seven-point cushion.

#Pritchard finished with 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting with five rebounds, five assists, and that key theft. #He had three turnovers but, much to #Brad #Stevens’ pleasure, none were caused by inadvertently stepping out of bounds during an offensive possession.

#Four games into his NBA career, #Pritchard, the #No. 26 pick in #November’s draft, is fifth on the team in total minutes played (88). #He’s logged more floor time than two of #Boston’s key rotation players during their bubble run in #Grant #Williams (61 minutes) and #Daniel Theis (86). #He’s just ahead of veteran offseason acquisition #Jeff #Teague, who he was supposed to be ahead of him on the point guard depth chart entering the season.

#All of which is to say that #Pritchard has blown away any sort of reasonable expectation. #Sure, being a four-year player at #Oregon made him a bit more NBA ready than some of the teenagers the #Celtics have snagged in recent years. #He is older than #Jayson #Tatum. #But to muscle his way into the rotation this early, to have #Brown dubbing him the GOAT, and #Tatum playfully calling him “8 #Mile,” is still remarkable.

#While #Kemba #Walker is sidelined, there will be suggestions that #Pritchard should even be considered for starting duties in small-ball lineups, especially if #Stevens navigates away from the two-big variation he’s used to start the year. #Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what #Pritchard’s role is because if he continues to impact winning the way he has, he’s going to be a key rotation presence on this team.

The #Celtics don’t win #Tuesday night without #Pritchard’s game-changing energy.

- Advertisement -

“Payton came in there with the confidence,” said #Brown. “Definitely needed a spark coming off the bench and #Payton was everything and more for us tonight. #We’re gonna need more guys to continue to step up. #Excellent guy. #Excellent job from #Payton #Pritchard, man. #Kid can play and we’re looking forward to him and other guys stepping up as well in the future.”

#Before #Tuesday’s game, #Stevens playfully needled the rookie about his propensity to step on the sideline early in his pro career. #All while doing his best to keep the #Pritchard excitement from ballooning too fast.

“#He’s a good player. #He’ll be a good player for a long time,” said #Stevens. “I don’t want to overdo it. The rookie hype train can sometimes be a good thing and sometimes be a bad thing. #He just needs to keep playing, keep getting better, do the best he can, and try to catch the ball inbounds.

“#That’s the #No. 1 goal. #If he can go a whole game without being out of bounds, that’d be quite a victory.”

#Well, chalk #Tuesday night up in multiple win columns. #But it turns out staying inbounds wasn’t #Pritchard’s biggest contribution. #He changed the entire complexion of the game — with help from fellow bench mobber #Robert #Williams — by bringing energy and effort after a dreadful start to the third quarter left the #Celtics staring at a 17-point hole.

#Pritchard even got some fourth-quarter run with a starter-heavy group. #He’s now had multiple games with crunch-time lineups. #It speaks volumes about the confidence the team has in him this early.

- Advertisement -

“#Having that confidence from your coach and also from my teammates, it means the world to me because it can allow me to keep growing as a player and being able to help this team when I can,” said #Pritchard. “#Coming off the bench, I want to be able to provide a spark, get the team either going or help the team build more of a lead.

“I’m all about winning. #That’s why we play this game. I want to win and I want to help as much as I can to get a win. #So, just tried to do that tonight.”

#Celtics’ cap outlook after reportedly exercising three team options

#Pritchard certainly has a bit of #Smart in him, especially if he’s going to produce those sort of winning plays. #Danny #Ainge drafted a younger version of himself and #Pritchard has helped fill an obvious void with #Walker sidelined to start the year.

#Sorry, #Coach, the rookie hype train is already nearing a high velocity. #Fortunately for the #Celtics, #Pritchard doesn’t seem like the type that will get too content based on a small bit of early praise. #Yes, even GOATS have to work to do on this team.



[ source link ]
https://www.nbcsports.com/boston/celtics/how-payton-pritchard-has-broken-through-celtics-rookie-wall

##Payton ##Pritchard #broken ##Celtics #rookie #wall

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments