If you’ve followed anyone of “Weird Celtics Twitter” over the past few seasons, you know that Green Teamers both love and trust Marcus Smart.
On Monday, Smart bestowed that distinction on teammate Payton Pritchard.
“It’s definitely been hard on Payton, not playing as much,” Smart said, per NBC Sports Boston Twitter video. “But he’s a professional, and he’s a guy that we need and we love and we trust. He’s just gotta come out here and give it everything he’s got. And this right here, this was his game and this was Derrick (White)’s game. And that’s what they’re here to do and they did their job.”
Pritchard continued to show why he’s deserving of minutes off the bench in Boston’s victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder at TD Garden, providing the spark that led to a dominant fourth-quarter comeback. After watching his team struggle to slow down an energetic Thunder squad, Pritchard came in and immediately grabbed a couple of offensive rebounds — something that has become a strength of his over the last several games, despite being listed at 6-foot-1.
Then he went and blew the roof off TD Garden, stripping Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander before beating the buzzer with a lay in to cut the Celtics deficit to seven.
That was the spark Boston needed. The Celtics would go on to outscore the Thunder, 37-26, in the fourth quarter and take home their seventh consecutive victory.
“Everything, it gives you the energy you need,” Smart said about Pritchard and White postgame, per Jared Weiss of The Athletic. “You see those guys, you’re happy for them, it gives you that adrenaline… The mud starts to loosen a bit and then you get one foot out the mud.”
Pritchard’s high level of competitive toughness has always been one of his calling cards, and on Monday, it showed itself in a big way for the Celtics. But just because his teammates admitted to loving him, doesn’t mean he returns the favor.