Celtics' Payton Pritchard may have found his groove offensively just in time

Even with an underwhelming beginning to the season on the offensive end, Payton Pritchard's confidence was flowing against the Hornets, potentially leading to his takeoff for the Celtics.
Boston Celtics v Toronto Raptors
Boston Celtics v Toronto Raptors / Cole Burston/GettyImages

Since Brad Stevens took over in the front office, Payton Pritchard has almost always had a significant obstacle in his way off the bench. The departures of two of Boston's most important guards gave way for the former Oregon product to average his most minutes per game in his career so far. It has not completely gone to plan. No. 11 has struggled with his shot, recording the fourth lowest shooting percentage on the Celts so far at 37.3% from the floor.

The 25-year-old could not carry that momentum from a productive summer into a hot start with the green and white. There were four games between October and the beginning of November in which the guard failed to score a single point. It's not how you start though. We all know that. Everyone goes through bad stretches. No. 11 may have turned the corner from his.

Nobody has more nicknames on this team than the kid from Tualatin, Oregon. No matter what you call Pritchard while your eyes are glued to the television during C's games, a sliver of doubt about him had to have creeped in your mind at some point this season. Find those thoughts. Get a hold of them. Throw them directed into the trash. Make sure you close the lid of the can though after.

Payton Pritchard reached highest gear for Celtics against Hornets

Against a pretty mediocre Charlotte Hornets ball club the other night, Pritchard found his groove. That was "P-Rabbit" at his best. Once he knocked down that first three in the first quarter off a Jaylen Brown drive and kick, you could see the confidence oozing out of him. He knocked down four threes in the first 12 minutes. It just kept raining. If he had made a few more, the Spectrum Center would have been forced to escort the fans out of the stadium due to the flood. The one Pritchard created.

Not only was his shot on --his decision-making and effect on winning was out for all to see. The Hornets' local announcers were at a loss for words. He carved up Bryce McGowens like a Thanksgiving turkey in the fourth, found Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk with a pinpoint cross-court pass, and earned two extra possessions with his hustle. There was no better time to get back to where everyone knows you should be.

On the parquet floor on November 22, Boston matches up with its biggest threat in the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks. Two days later, the Celts have a critical In-Season Tournament game against an often-overlooked Orlando Magic squad. The last time Pritchard scored over 20 points, he followed it up with a 30-piece chicken wing dinner to go along with a large fry and a side of mashed potatoes. That roughly translates to a triple-double.

Payton Pritchard's 21-point breakout in the Queen City could spark the beginning of a turnaround

Joe Mazzulla described how impressed he has been of No. 11, specifically outside of scoring:

"“I think he’s doing a great job picking up full-court and competing on the defensive end. He’s just becoming a complete player on both ends of the floor.”"

Joe Mazzulla

Just a few days ago, Celtics Wire's Adam Taylor spoke about the possibility of bringing in Alex Caruso to provide more consistent offensive production off the bench. For now, we should hold that thought. Pritchard looks like he has something cooking. Patience is key for someone like No. 11, especially considering he did not play much under Joe Mazzulla's system last season. Take a deep breath. Pritchard is not a trade piece. A trip to Charlotte may just have been exactly what the doctor ordered to flip the script on his inconsistencies.