Marcus Smart Reveals ‘It’s Been Hard’ for Celtics Third-Year Guard

Marcus Smart, Payton Pritchard

Getty Payton Pritchard #11, Marcus Smart #36, Boston Celtics

After the Boston Celtics defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder on November 14, Marcus Smart, who led the way with 22 points, eight assists, and five rebounds while shooting eight-for-12 from the field, singled out fellow guard Payton Pritchard in his postgame interview.  Smart praised Pritchard for staying ready to play despite limited usage this season, which Smart says has not been easy for him.

“It’s definitely been hard on Payton,” Smart said. “He’s not playing as much, but he’s a professional, and he’s a guy that we need, and we love and trust. He’s going to come out here and give it everything he got. This game right here was his game.”

In 14 minutes, Pritchard put up 10 points, four rebounds – three of them offensive – and two steals while shooting four-of-eight from the field.

Pritchard has seen an uptick in his minutes ever since Malcolm Brogdon left in the second quarter of the Celtics’ game against the Detroit Pistons with a hamstring injury on November 9.

Pritchard Wants to ‘Stay Professional’

After the Celtics defeated the Thunder, Pritchard was asked how challenging it’s been to play as well as he has despite the limited opportunities. Pritchard answered by saying what he can and cannot influence.

“I’m just going to stay professional,” Pritchard noted. “Show up every day to work and control what I can control. That’s all I can do.”

Before Brogdon went down with his hamstring injury, Pritchard had played in only three games during the 2022-23 season. He has proven to be productive in Brogdon’s place off the bench. In his last four games, Pritchard is averaging 7.5 points and 3.5 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the field while putting up a plus/minus of plus-4.8.

Pritchard has been through this before, as he did not see many minutes at the start of last season because of Ime Udoka’s preference to play Dennis Schroder as the primary backup guard. Once Schroder was traded to the Houston Rockets, Pritchard became much more involved and was a consistently featured player in the Celtics’ rotation by the season’s end.

Pritchard went on to play every game in the 2022 NBA Playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat, and Golden State Warriors.

Joe Mazzulla Provides Updates on Brogdon and Robert Williams

Before the Celtics took on the Thunder, interim coach Joe Mazzulla provided an update on the status of Brogdon and Robert Williams III to reporters.

In Brogdon’s case, Mazzulla stressed that the guard’s injury is a day-to-day issue and that the team wants to ensure the prized offseason acquisition isn’t dealing with any lingering ailments before reinserting him into the lineup.

“Physically, he’s doing pretty well,” Mazzulla said. It’s just a day-to-day thing. Making sure he’s comfortable and making sure there isn’t any tightness or grab at it. He went and picked it up today as far as on the court work. Hopefully, he’ll be back as soon as possible.”

As for Williams, Mazzulla said that while nothing’s changed as far as his recovery time goes, mentally, Williams is doing quite well.

“He’s in a great spirit, mentally. No timetable has changed as far as where he’s at. But he’s doing a great job with his rehab. He’s on the court doing small stuff, but it’s great to see him out there and progressing well.”