Still recovering from his sprained MCL, Boston Celtics rookie Payton Pritchard is learning the benefits of taking things in from the sideline but initially thought the worst when he felt a pop in his knee – Payton feared his season was over.
“My mind was like ‘I’m done, I’m done for however long,'” Pritchard said prior to Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers. “You start to, not necessarily panic but that was the first time it happened to me.”
Dealing with the first injury of his career, Pritchard’s adjusting to what the recovery process is like in the NBA.
Celtics Rookie Payton Pritchard: ‘I’m A Little Over 50%’
After being cleared for some physical activities, Payton’s returned to the floor and is inching closer to an eventual return.
“The last two days I’ve been on the court so I’m starting to move and cut, and stuff like that so I’m getting there,” Pritchard said. “I would say I’m a little over 50% but obviously, this is a process so each day it’s gotten better and better.”
Payton reminded reporters, this is his first injury.
“The injury I had they said it can feel like it popped, that was my first ever knee injury ever,” Pritchard said. “So, obviously when I got hit and then feeling like it popped, I mean, instantly, my mind goes to the worst.”
Payton Pritchard On Watching Games From The Sidelines: ‘For Me, It’s Kind Of A Learning Experience’
Now, Payton is focused on getting closer to 100% but explained why he doesn’t want to rush this newfound process he’s going through.
“As far as the timetable goes, really, it’s going to be when I feel the best and our staff feels that I’m able to go out there and go 100%, so the biggest thing,” Pritchard said. “I’m not trying to go out there if I’m only 80-90%. I want it to be back, fully. As far as helping the team, through this experience of sitting on the bench, I’m able to pick up the game and find little ways that I see things that I probably wouldn’t if I was playing.
“For me, it’s kind of a learning experience; sitting there with the coaches and talking through things.”
Learning from watching players like Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart, Pritchard’s picked up on new tactics to implement when he returns.
Celtics’ Marcus Smart Suffers Calf Sprain Vs. Lakers
However, sooner rather than later would really help the Celtics, in light of Smart suffering a left calf injury against the Lakers Saturday – affectively thinning Brad Stevens’ backcourt considerably.
In the game’s waning seconds, Walker’s jump shot in-transition bounced off the side of the rim before Daniel Theis’ putback fell short as time expired. The Lakers snapped a two-game skid in the form of a heartbreaking 96-95, loss.
Next up for the Celtics is a five-game road trip out west that starts against the Golden State Warriors this Tuesday night, followed by the Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Clippers, and Phoenix Suns. Lastly, Boston will conclude its road trip in Utah against the Jazz next Tuesday.