ESPN predicts major breakout for rising Boston Celtics sharpshooter in playoffs

Boston Celtics v Houston Rockets
Boston Celtics v Houston Rockets / Alex Bierens de Haan/GettyImages

ESPN's Tim Bontemps believes that the world "will get to know" Sam Hauser after a breakout performance for the Boston Celtics in the postseason -- projecting a big role for the Virginia product in Joe Mazzulla's rotation.

"The world will get to know Sam Hauser," Bontemps said when giving his "one postseason prediction" in ESPN's NBA playoffs projection piece. "Much has been made of Boston's lack of depth this season, but that's in part because Hauser, one of the league's best 3-point shooters, has been completely overlooked. The 26-year-old shot over 43% from 3-point range on more than five attempts per game this season as coach Joe Mazzulla's preferred seventh man after the five starters and top reserve Al Horford. If the Celtics have the kind of playoff run they are expecting, Hauser will play a big part in it and likely will have several big shooting performances."

Hauser has played at least 20 minutes every game during the month of April, and during that time, he's registered six double-digit performances in eight appearances. Mazzulla has been entrusting the "stay-ready" unit to lead Boston to winning basketball down the stretch of the 2023-24 regular season and he's gotten just that.

Hauser may not be the only Celtic primed for a breakout during the playoffs because of this strategy, luckily.

Payton Pritchard emerging as legitimate weapon for Boston Celtics at the right time

Hauser was one of the many success stories from the C's second unit this past season, but nobody's breakout stands out more than Payton Pritchard's.

Pritchard has become the bench's undisputed leader and is putting up stat-lines that are making it hard for Mazzulla not to give him significant minutes this spring as the team makes its most serious attempt at Banner 18 since the Big Three era.

Averaging 18.8 points, seven assists, and 3.6 rebounds per game in April, Pritchard has become starter-level on a team that has the best starting five in the league. Along with the C's elite first five and Al Horford, Pritchard has shifted the conversation to a Boston top seven.

And if Bontemps is a soothsayer, Hauser could make push that even further and give the Celtics an undeniable top eight.