Slumping Celtics Guard Sounds Off: ‘I’m Just Done With It’

Payton Prtichard sounds off on bad play, mask

Getty Payton Pritchard #11 of the Boston Celtics.

This season was supposed to be Payton Pritchard’s breakout campaign. And while that still remains a possibility, the early returns for the second-year Oregon product have been lackluster at best.

From his viral 92-point explosion in Pro-Am play to looking head and shoulders above his Summer League competition, Pritchard looked destined to pay major dividends for a Celtics team boasting a new look backcourt. However, things quickly went downhill after he sustained a broken nose in a preseason bout with the Orlando Magic.

As a precaution, Pritchard has since donned a protective mask in every game since — that was, until Boston’s 91-89 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on November 13th, where he emerged maskless for the second half of play.

“I’m just done wearing it. It’s kind of annoying to wear. It takes away some of your vision. It’s just a lot different,” Pritchard said of the mask via Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe. “Going forward, if I break my nose, I break my nose. It’s a little early [to stop using the mask], but it is what it is. I’m just done with it.”

Masked PP vs. Unmasked PP

Unfortunately, ridding of the mask hasn’t played much of a positive in Pritchard’s performance over the short term. Since ditching the protective shield he’s shot 0-for-4 from the field over his last six quarters, including going scoreless in a rematch with the Cavs on November 15th.

“I’ve got to knock down my shots and let it flow, but I’m just focusing on helping the team win,” Pritchard said. “As a new team goes, you just figure out how to help them win, and that’s all I’m worried about right now. As far as my individual success, I’ll find ways to help.”

Pritchard was somewhat of a revelation as a rookie. Not even the top pick on his own team — that was Aaron Nesmith, who was selected 12 picks prior. However, it was Pritchard who made the most waves as a first-year pro. With Kemba Walker hobbled by injuries for much of the 2020-21 season, the Portland native stepped up in a big way. Manning nearly 20 minutes per game, Pritchard flashed elite range and touch, knocking down 44.0% of his shots from the field and 41.1% from beyond the arc.

“My immediate thought is his range is great. He’s got that (Stephen) Curry, (Damian) Lillard range,” one Eastern Conference told Celtics Blog’s Keith Smith of Pritchard back in September.

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Udoka Talks Pritchard

While he shined as a rookie, Pritchard has struggled to find footing in new coach Ime Udoka’s rotation. His minutes have dipped below 10.7 per game, while his scoring output has been essentially non-existent. Over 12 games, Pritchard has averaged just 1.8 points while shooting 23.5% from the field and 26.1% from 3-point range — both of which are a 15.0%-plus slide from last season.

“I don’t know if it has anything to do with the mask,” Udoka said regarding Pritchard. “It could be that you’re missing shots and looking for something, as far as that, but [we need] him coming in and being who he is and hunting shots. We try to get him shots when he’s in.”

Pritchard will look to get back on track on Wednesday when the Celtics head to Atlanta for a November 17th showdown with the Hawks. A victory for Boston would put the Cs over the .500 threshold and mark their sixth victory over their last eight games.


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