All aboard the Payton Pritchard Hype Train – this is quickly picking up steam.
The Boston Celtics rookie had the best performance of his young NBA career Monday night against the Toronto Raptors but amidst all the exciting commotion and hoopla someone had to humble the 22-year-old standout. That, someone, happened to be Jaylen Brown.
Pritchard, who scored 23 points on 8-of-13 attempts, including a pair of threes, and dished out 8 assists, also participated in the popular social-media-crazed Running Man Challenge from 2016. Thanks to Brown’s Instagram post, which was seen on Jaylen’s account less than an hour after the Celtics’ 126-114 win over the Raptors, we got a throwback video of a teenaged Pritchard performing the dance.
Celtics’ Payton Pritchard On Jaylen Brown’s IG Post: ‘I’m Going To Have To Deal With It’
In the video, Payton opens a refrigerator, starts dancing, and then lifts up his shirt. “Mood,” Brown wrote as a caption, which was accompanied by a laughing emoji.
“I haven’t seen that video in a long time,” Pritchard said when he was asked about Brown’s Instagram post. “That was from high school, the beginning of high school, I believe. Obviously now, that video is going to start going around but I’ll have fun with it. I started laughing when I seen it but he put it out there so I’m going to have to deal with it.”
After grabbing its first double-digit lead in the opening frame, it was the Raptors that had to deal with Pritchard, who made an immediate impact by draining a 27-foot 3-pointer and took control of the Celtics’ erratic pace. Boston didn’t collapse, per se, right out of the gate.
But after the Raptors connected on 7 threes in the game’s opening seven minutes and coerced six first-quarter turnovers, Pritchard calmed the storm. He followed up his 3-pointer with a pass to Grant Williams, who drained a 3-pointer of his own and another pass for Semi Ojeleye, whose layup sliced the Celtics’ deficit down to seven.
Jayson Tatum On Payton Pritchard’s 23-Point Performance: ‘We’re Going To Need That Going Forward’
From there, Tatum caught fire on his way to a 40-point performance and a 12-point victory.
“He stepped up,” Tatum said after the win. “We didn’t have (Jeff) Teague tonight, didn’t have (Marcus) Smart, so it just gave guys more opportunity and he played really well tonight. We’re going to need that going forward.”
No word on whether the Celtics be with or without Smart and Teague against the Miami Heat Wednesday night. Either way, Pritchard’s ready to step up.
When asked what he thinks is the biggest reason for his success, thus far – averaging 8.6 points, 3.1 assists, and 1.4 steals in his first eight games – Payton’s pointed to his work ethic.
“My hard work,” Pritchard said. “I stay ready for any opportunity that comes my way. At the end of the day, I just want to try to help my team win like we did tonight. Obviously, each and every night is going to be a different night but I’m going to try other ways I could be effective defensively, offensively, whatever it is to help my team that night.
“For me, it’s just staying prepared. Work every day and be mentally, and physically locked in.”