Multiple members of the Boston Celtics roster have ties to Portland, from head coach Ime Udoka and the majority of his coaching staff to sophomore point guard Payton Pritchard.
Pritchard grew up in Oregon, playing basketball at youth, high school, and college levels, making him somewhat of a hometown hero. So, when the sophomore guard got hot against the Portland Trail Blazers, you could understand the excitement on the bench and in the stands.
“It feels good to come back and play in your hometown. Obviously, I played high school ball here, grew up here, and then played college ball. So, you know, Oregon is a special place to me. For me and our team to come out here and play well and get a win on this West Coast trip feels good,” Pritchard told the media after he dropped 19 points in the Celtics’ latest win.
Following the game, some sections of NBA fans stated that Pritchard’s play down the stretch could be considered unprofessional, as he continued to fire shots up with the clock winding down and the win already in the books.
“We hitting shots, I don’t know what they want us to do, at the same time I get it if you’re like free-balling it, but we was just playing ball, hitting shot’s, so,” Pritchard said when discussing his thoughts on being labeled unprofessional, “I think at the same time, I was just playing ball. I know I got a lot of support here in Portland, but it was fun just going out there playing ball.”
Celtics Twitter Reacts to Pritchard’s Performance
Pritchard has had some excellent scoring nights since entering the NBA and has become a beloved member of the roster for the fan base. After a summer that saw him have some dominant performances in Summer League and then his 92 point outing during a Portland Pro-Am game, many were expecting big things from the guard this year.
However, after 24 new season games, we’ve been left waiting for a big night from Pritchard. And then, in his hometown, the diminutive guard turned on the style in the third and fourth quarter to help his team get a big victory over his hometown franchise.
Of course, whenever the Celtics are doing something good, Twitter is the place to be, with fans, analysts, and media members all getting in on the good vibes following the December 4th contest.
“Nobody dislikes amateur teams running up scores more than me, but this is the NBA! Payton Pritchard deserves to take advantage of some PT. If teams aren’t allowed to try, the @NBA should institute a rule where the team losing is allowed to throw in the towel. No apology needed,” Twitter user @DanKelley66 wrote following the Celtics “unprofessional” celebrations to Pritchard’s hot streak in the fourth quarter.
“And another one!!!!!!!!!! Dennis on the floor needing CPR!!!! Let’s go!!!! Pritchard going crazy with the 3s!!!!! #Celtics,” @Cmoon05 wrote on Twitter while the Celtics guard was hitting shot after shot.
If you want to see more of the reactions on Celtics Twitter, you can find them here.
Pritchard Has Struggled for Playing Time Recently
According to Basketball-Reference, Pritchard has already missed five games this season due to the coach’s decision not to play him. And when he has seen the floor, the sophomore guard’s touches have been limited, leading to him forcing his shots a little.
In 19 appearances this season, Pritchard has averaged 9.3 minutes per game – a considerable drop from his 19.2 minutes per night last season. With just 2.2 points, 1.2 assists, and 1.2 rebounds per game, the Oregon native’s impact on games has been subdued compared to his rookie year, which has come as a surprise to fans worldwide.
“He had a little bit of frustration because he hasn’t played that much, hasn’t seen the court much yet. But, I mean, it’s great to see these people who are working hard every single day. I think Jayson Tatum mentioned that everybody in this locker room, they work, try to get better, and everybody tries to help the team win. And to see it pay off like that, getting hot in the fourth quarter, it means a lot to for me and my teammates for sure,” Dennis Schroder said when discussing Pritchard’s scoring exploits.
The Celtics have a demanding schedule through December, which entails multiple back-to-back games. Following his performance against the Trail Blazers, one would hope that Pritchard gets more opportunities to repeat his scoring exploits moving forward.
The Celtics have a few days rest now before facing off against their fierce rivals in the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, December 7th.