Celtics Wrap: Payton Pritchard Banks Game-Winner For Boston Vs. Heat

The rookie came in clutch


Jan 6, 2021

The Boston Celtics had this matchup circled on their calendar.

Wednesday’s rematch against Miami was an opportunity to get revenge after the Heat sent the Celtics packing from the NBA bubble after beating them in the Eastern Conference finals in September.

Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum combined or 48 points in the Celtics’ 107-105 victory over the Heat. But it was rookie Payton Pritchard (six points, six rebounds, four assists) who secured the win.

Miami kept it a close game thanks to 26 points from Jimmy Butler and 16 from Duncan Robinson. Bam Adebayo had 15 points and 10 rebounds.

The Celtics improved to 6-3 while the Heat fell to 3-4.

Here’s how it all went down:

PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Daniel Theis
C: Tristan Thompson

The Celtics opened the game with a solid quarter, shooting 54.2% from the field on a balanced scoring effort.

But Brown certainly stood out early. He led Boston with nine points, four assists, three rebounds and a steal in the first.

Tatum followed that effort up with eight first-frame points after going 2-for-2 from deep. Theis had seven points and two rebounds early while Smart had five points and two assists.

At one point, Boston had itself a 12-point lead, but Miami slowly started chipping away it it. Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic and some free throws helped the Heat hang around to trail 34-26 at the end of the first.

The Celtics opened up the second quarter strong. Semi Ojeleye gave them a bit of separation with a 3-pointer a few minutes in before making it 43-28 after getting his own offensive rebounds and making good on the second effort.

Meanwhile, the defense had a good stretch switching, and after a rough start to the season, Grant Williams (quietly) looked great on both sides of the ball. He racked up an assist and a steal in the first half.

But that didn’t last all quarter, and after being up as much as 17 points, the C’s let Miami eat that lead again.

Tatum finished the half with a team-high 12 points, four rebounds and two assists while Brown had 11 points, four assists, seven rebounds and a steal.

Boston led 53-45 at the break, aided by the Heat shooting 35.1% from the field and just 4-of-13 (30.8%) from deep.

Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but the third quarter was not great.

About four minutes into the half, Duncan Robinson hit a 3-pointer to pull Miami within one point. Jimmy Butler made a tip shot shortly after to give the Heat a 60-59 lead.

It went back and forth the rest of the quarter, and with about three minutes left, head coach Brad Stevens send Payton Pritchard and Carsen Edwards into the game.

Pritchard changed the energy a bit, and after Tatum blew by Tyler Herro to jam it in, he tied things up at 71 apiece thanks to an assist from the rookie moments later.

Pritchard and Tatum were the difference in the quarter offensively, but a tough play by Williams to grab an offensive board and bang it in tied things up at 80-all to end the quarter.

The Celtics and Heat went back and forth once again to start the final frame.

Jaylen Brown knocked down a clutch 3-pointer with four minutes to play that tied things up at 95, and Theis gave them a two-point lead.

From there, the J’s took over. Tatum hit a side-step 3-pointer over Adebayo, and after Herro missed a triple of his own, Brown hit a dagger from deep to give Boston some breathing room.

Duncan Robinson hit a late corner-3 and capitalizes on the four-point-play, and Dragic followed that up with another to tie it up again.

Insert Pritchard, who battled hard for the rebound to bank the game-winner, as the Celtics narrowly outscored the Heat 27-25 in the final quarter.

Dragic is a really good player, but he got got by the rookie, as Pritchard faked him out.

The Celtics finally return to Boston on Thursday ahead of their game against Russell Westbrook and the new-look Washington Wizards. Tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET.

Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images
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