As Payton Pritchard makes his homecoming Tuesday night, the crowd in Portland will be rooting for more than just the Trail Blazers.
The Boston Celtics rookie, for the first time in his NBA career, gets to play the team he grew up rooting for — in the arena he’s had a ton of success in, at that.
“I think my family will be cheering for us tonight,” Pritchard said in his pregame media availability. “But I think everyone, being from Portland, roots for Portland?s success, but tonight they might be cheering for me and the Celtics.”
The West Linn, Oregon native went on to play college basketball at Oregon where he developed into Boston’s No. 26 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
He’s already a role player for the Celtics, though his red-hot start since has cooled off to average out a respectable 6.8 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game while shooting 40.8% from 3-point range.
“My rookie year has been up and down, there?s been highs and there?s been lows,” Pritchard reflected. “For me, the whole experience has been unbelievable, but obviously the moment the team pulls out a win down the stretch are the things that stand out the most. But through it all it?s a learning experience and it?s unbelievable.”
Pritchard is no stranger to Moda Center between all those years of high school and college ball. But this particular experience, as the Celtics take on the Trail Blazers at 10 p.m. ET, is special.
?It?s really special. To finally be at this moment is unbelievable,” he said. “Like I said before, had success in this gym so hopefully it continues.?