It was another disappointing loss for the Boston Celtics as they fell to the Indiana Pacers 108-107. The Celtics started the game strong, but the defense completely fell apart, giving up 39 points to Indy in the third quarter. The team rallied back but could not keep a late lead after another defensive miscommunication lead to a Domantas Sabonis game-winner.
Outside of a game Boston would have liked to win, there were some positive takeaways from this game. The young kids played well (outside of the last defensive possession) and looked confident doing so. The Williamses and Payton Pritchard stepped up, and Brad Stevens rode them down the stretch.
Specifically, Pritchard, or “FastPP” as Weird Celtics Twitter likes to call him, showed flashes of what he can bring on the offensive end. Stevens said after the Nets game that he wanted to give Pritchard more of an opportunity in this offense. In only his third NBA game, he was not timid and really took advantage of his minutes. His final stat line was 13 points, 2 assists, and 2 steals on a perfect 5-5 from the field, 3-3 from three-point range.
This first basket of the night really highlights that confidence he plays with. For now, Pritchard projects as just a catch-and-shoot player, but he was an accomplished point guard at Oregon who won the Bob Cousy Award in his senior season. Here, he drives past Doug McDermott and then pulls up before Sabonis can come out and help. It may be a basic play, but it started Pritchard’s night and shows he can be aggressive and pull up off the dribble.
The shots kept falling for Pritchard. He showed off that ridiculous range as a spot up shooter. Stevens must have given him the green light whenever he felt confident. Next, Boston had a solid possession of ball movement whipping it around until they found Pritchard for an open three. He saw the defense coming and still stayed in his normal flow to bury the three.
It wasn’t just Pritchard’s shooting that was impressive. He also had an assist that showed some of his promise as a point guard. He crashes into the paint with a full head of steam and multiple defenders collapsing on him, but then calmly finds Grant Williams cutting to the basket for a bucket for the young Celtics highlight reel.
While the Celtics are piecing together Kemba’s minutes in his absence, Pritchard will have more of these opportunities. In Monday’s media availability, Pritchard was asked about his big night and his impressions on the league so far coming off four years of college. “I got better each year in college. For me, I was ready to go after my senior year and come in and play right away.” He went on to mention how he wants to continue this trajectory and get better in this first year in the league as well. As he said himself, “I am mentally prepared for the NBA.”
Even after a disappointing loss, Payton Pritchard was a bright spot for the Celtics in this one. He showed his sharpshooting abilities lighting it up from the outside and displayed some promising confidence from a rookie.