Atlantic Notes: Pritchard, Celtics, Harris, VanVleet

Payton Pritchard showed on Saturday night that he’s too valuable for the Celtics to consider moving him before the trade deadline, writes Brian Robb of MassLive. Injuries gave Pritchard a chance to play with the game on the line and he delivered 12 fourth-quarter points, including a three-pointer that turned out to be the game-winner.

Pritchard has recently overtaken Sam Hauser in Boston’s rotation, and he was in the game at crunch time due to injuries to Marcus Smart and Derrick White. Robb acknowledges that several teams have expressed interest in Pritchard, but he doesn’t believe the Celtics can improve their title chances by trading him.

“I’m happy for Payton,” coach Joe Mazzulla said. “This league can be unforgiving at times. You have to be strong-minded, you got to work hard, you got to be patient. Payton’s all of those things. I’ve always told him: Whenever it’s his time, I trust him completely. He was great tonight.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Smart and Robert Williams both left Saturday’s game with injuries, but the Celtics don’t sound overly concerned about either of them, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Smart suffered a sprained right ankle, but X-rays were negative and he’s considered day to day. Williams didn’t return after halftime due to a hyperextended left knee, but Mazzulla assured reporters that he’s OK.
  • The Sixers‘ best option is to hold onto Tobias Harris, at least through the end of this season, contends Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Harris delivered 17 points, six assists and five rebounds Saturday as Philadelphia won at Sacramento without Joel Embiid and James Harden, and Pompey points out that Harris’ willingness to adapt to changing roles has made the Sixers seem like legitimate title contenders. Harris has one year left on his contract, and Pompey believes that if the team wants to unload him, it will be easier this summer when he has an expiring deal.
  • The Raptors fell to 20-27 with Saturday’s loss, and Fred VanVleet understands that the team needs to start winning to avoid major changes at the deadline, per Michael Grange of “In my seven years going through it, you realize there’s nothing you can do about it,” VanVleet said. “The better you play and the better your team does, the lower the chance anybody getting shipped out of here.”
View Comments (9)