Shift in Mindset Fueled Payton Pritchard in Game 3 Win vs. Heat

Apr 27, 2024; Miami, Florida, USA; Boston Celtics guard Payton Pritchard (11) drives past Miami Heat forward Caleb Martin.
Apr 27, 2024; Miami, Florida, USA; Boston Celtics guard Payton Pritchard (11) drives past Miami Heat forward Caleb Martin. / Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Payton Pritchard starred in his role, providing a needed spark in the Celtics' 104-84 win over the Heat on Saturday to take a 2-1 lead in this first-round rivalry clash.

His stat line: seven points, three rebounds, and an assist, pales in comparison to what came from him pushing the pace off misses and makes to help ensure Boston consistently created quality shots.

His dogged pursuit as he trailed his assignments while fighting over screens to disrupt their shots was crucial to limiting Miami to 9/28 (32.1%) from beyond the arc. 

Those misses aided the visitors' up-tempo attack, which helped minimize the Celtics faring 11/37 (29.7%) from three-point range.

As if that wasn't enough, he made an impact on the offensive glass, including swooping in for an offensive rebound in traffic and cleaning up a missed three by Sam Hauser.

A day later, Pritchard shared the shift in mindset that fueled his Game 3 performance.

"(In) Game 2, I wasn't like, I'm not gonna go out there and try to force things, and I gotta take what the game is giving me," said the former Oregon Duck. "But this last game, I kind of was trying to be more aggressive in transition, the pace of the play, even if they make it, let's get it out quick. And so I just feel like I got more involved. 

"I even got a couple of offensive rebounds. Anytime I get that, it kind of gets me going a little bit more. So, for me, it doesn't mean shooting, but pushing it every time can help this team with the flow of things."

As for his head coach, Joe Mazzulla voiced at the podium post-game on Saturday about the difference it makes when Pritchard plays with confidence on both ends of the court, "It starts with him. It's the bench in general. When you can change the tempo of the game by putting in different lineups and (you) have different guys (do so), I think it helps us. It takes the pressure off those other guys. He's been tremendous for us, dictating the pace and really dictating the physicality of the game."

Pointing to an essential aspect of how Pritchard pushed through being on the outside of the rotation last season, Jayson Tatum conveyed, "Payton is one of the most confident guys I've ever been around. 

"At every given moment, he walks out there like he's the best player. To have that confidence, it's special. We need him to be like that – being aggressive on both ends, being able to attack closeouts, create his own shot, create for others. To have that off the bench, it's special."

Praising Pritchard for staying aggressive on Saturday, the Celtics' other star wing, Jaylen Brown, expressed, "Payton's energy has been fantastic for us all year. Him just making shots, him just making plays, him getting on the glass. Payton is a dog. We look forward to him being able to make those plays down the line in the playoffs, but he did a great job tonight."

Further Reading

'Burned Inside': Kristaps Porzingis Bounces Back from 'Worst Game as a Celtic'

Celtics Right the Wrongs of Game 2 to Take 2-1 Lead Over Heat

Kristaps Porzingis Details How Heat Disrupted Him in Game 2: 'I'll Make Sure I'm Better'

Heat's Historic Shooting Leaves Celtics Contemplating: 'We Gotta Respond'

Heat Outmuscle and Outshoot Celtics, Sending Series to Miami Tied at 2

Celtics Bench Stars in Its Role in Game 1 Win vs. Heat: 'An Identity of Our Team'

Jayson Tatum Discusses First-Career Playoff Triple-Double: 'A Beautiful Game'

Celtics Protect the Parquet in Dominant Display in Game 1 vs. Heat

How do the Heat Adapt Without Jimmy Butler? Joe Mazzulla Weighs in

Celtics Embracing Challenge to Go Beyond Most Talented

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Bobby Krivitsky


Bobby Krivitsky's experiences include covering the NBA as a credentialed reporter for Basketball Insiders. He's also a national sports talk host for SportsMap Radio, a network airing on 96 radio stations throughout the country. Additionally, he was a major-market host, update anchor, and producer for IMG Audio, and he worked for Bleacher Report as an NFL and NBA columnist.