Celtics’ Ime Udoka Nothing But ‘Extreme Confidence’ In Payton Pritchard

Pritchard scored 16 points in 28 minutes


Dec 18, 2021

With the Boston Celtics dealing with a flurry of COVID-19 cases and injuries there has been a greater number of opportunities for some lately and Payton Pritchard certainly made the most of his Saturday night.

The Celtics are thin all around right now and only had 10 players available for their tilt with the New York Knicks and because of that Pritchard was able to record a season-high 28 minutes and looked like a seasoned veteran in the process.

Pritchard provided a spark off the Boston bench finishing the night with 16 points, three rebounds and three assists in the squad’s 114-107 win over the Knicks and head coach Ime Udoka had nothing but praise afterward.

“Added opportunity for him as well as (Josh Richardson) with some of those guys out as well as (Aaron Nesmith). He’s a guy that we’re extremely confident in. I’ve said it all year, he stays ready. He’s extremely hungry and he’s always in the gym so you’re not worried about his preparation or not being ready when the time comes,” Udoka said. “Obviously he’s one of our best shooters and the thing is it’s just been a minute crunch with (Dennis Schröder) being the backup for most of the year.

“That’s all it is. It’s nothing that Payton has done or not done to limit the minutes there. He’s a guy from the same city as me, I’ve seen him in high school win state championships, watched him in college and have extreme confidence in. When he gets the opportunity he’s always going to be ready. It was good to see him do what he did but it wasn’t surprising.”

The Celtics likely will need more performances like this from Pritchard in the foreseeable future as they attempt to get their COVID-19 outbreak out of control. Boston currently has Al Horford, Grant Williams, Jabari Parker, Juancho Hernangomez and Sam Hauser all in health and safety protocols and also have missed Schröder over the last two games due to a non-COVID injury.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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