By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Jeff Teague will be sidelined for Monday’s game against the Raptors, and Marcus Smart is questionable with a thumb injury. Those injuries will leave the Celtics a bit shorthanded at point guard in
Toronto Tampa Bay.
But Boston fans know what likely means: Lots of playing time for Payton Pritchard. Or 8-Mile, or The G.O.A.T or whatever the kids are calling him these days.
Pritchard may have just seven games under his belt as a pro, but his already bountiful collection of nicknames is an indication that he is here to stay. The rookie point guard has rarely looked like a rookie out there, and he’s been rewarded with nearly 22 minutes of playing time per game. Pritchard has shown that he’s a smart ball distributor who can run the second unit, which has earned him Brad Stevens’ trust.
He played over 27 minutes in Sunday’s win over the Pistons in Detroit, the heaviest workload of his young career thus far. Pritchard finished with five assists, four rebounds, four assists and a steal, and was a plus-seven in the 122-120 Boston win. For the season, he’s averaging 6.6 points per game off 51 percent shooting overall and 40 percent from three-point range.
Those aren’t numbers that jump off the screen, but Pritchard injects some energy and brings a much faster pace to the second unit when he takes the floor.
With Teague out, he’ll be in line for a few more minutes. If Smart has to sit out the second night of a back-to-back, Pritchard get a chance to bring that energy to the starting five in a spot start for Boston.
There is little reason to believe that Smart will miss the game, since he is Marcus Smart. He didn’t look injured Sunday night, as he delivered the pass to Jayson Tatum before the forward hit the go-ahead basket in the game’s final moments. Even if he is hurt, Smart is going to tough it out.
But Pritchard should be ready for a heavy workload Monday night as the Celtics face off against the Raptors for the first time this season.