First, he got the bag. Then, he went deep in it. Just hours after Payton Pritchard signed a new four-year extension with the Boston Celtics, he sets TD Garden ablaze in the preseason opener against the Philadelphia 76ers. The weather may be beginning to get colder in New England by the day, but the former Oregon product is heating up as the campaign inches closer.
You don’t need a coat as long as you stand within the vicinity of Pritchard. That man is exuding heat at the moment.
Considering the role he had under Joe Mazzulla in his first season at the helm, it seemed only a matter of time before the point guard was dealt elsewhere for a bigger opportunity. That did not end up being the case. It did not even take an entire game before “M-V-P” chants rained down on PP while he was at the line.
Every Boston fan breathed a sigh of relief watching a motivated No. 11 rip up the Sixers’ defense in green and white, not in another color. The swag was undeniable. He fed off the Garden’s energy, putting the bench unit in his backpack late in the fourth quarter to seal the C’s third straight victory in a preseason opener. Nick Nurse had no choice but to triple-team him in the final minute of the contest. The 2020 Bob Cousy Award winner netted 16 points in the final 12 minutes, shooting over 66% from the field. He was as hot as the surface of the sun.
Not only was it his offense, but his work rate on the opposite end of the floor was impressive considering the circumstances.
No. 11 wants to work. In his mind, that game mattered. The former late first-round pick picked up guards before the line and gobbled up important rebounds. His ability to give the ball up, and relocate to another spot in the halfcourt is something the league could see quite often when the regular season kicks off.
Just days before this, Sam Hauser detailed Pritchard’s impressive at training camp and shared that the Oregon product is “out for blood” this season. It’s only 48 minutes into the pre-season, but there are no lies detected in that statement. He had nine DNPs after October and November of last season. The former Pac-12 star is taking it into his own hands to make sure that does not repeat.
Payton Pritchard looked revived after putting pen to paper on Boston Celtics extension
You could visibly see the relief that went through him yesterday. An NBA career is not always a straight line upward. In the case of No. 11, it has resembled a zig-zag. This could be the beginning of a significant progression upward as a professional in green. That behind-the-scenes work with Team USA during that training camp may have been the exact preparation he needed.
It’s almost impossible not to root for a player like this. His grit is commendable. Nobody has questioned the talent. Last season did not break him, meaning almost nothing has the capability to. The rewards have to be coming. He would have not signed an extension if he was not going to serve as a larger bench piece this season.
Coming off the game, the point guard described what he felt like to confirm his future.
“I think this is the best basketball organization & city in the NBA so it feels good.”
That quote is straight-up music to the ears of Boston Celtics fans everywhere. Cheers to many more moments like that for Pritchard in green and white.