Celtics Notes: Holiday, Hauser, Pritchard, White

Boston has all but secured the No. 1 seed in the East, holding an 11-game lead on second-place Milwaukee with 12 games left on the team’s schedule.

As Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe writes (subscription required), the Celtics have been resting some of their top players over the past week to be cautious — for example, Jayson Tatum missed Friday’s game vs. Detroit with what was officially called a right ankle impingement, but there’s no indication it’s anything serious.

However, veteran guard Jrue Holiday, who missed his third straight game on Friday with a sprained right AC joint in his shoulder, does not fall into that category. Holiday tells Himmelsbach he’s been experiencing “dead arm” following a hard screen from Wizards center Richaun Holmes last Sunday (Twitter video link).

The two-time All-Star has been getting treatment for the injury, which requires rest to heal, per Himmelsbach. While Holiday says he’s starting to feel better, there’s no timeline for his return. Despite the team’s sizeable lead in the standings, he’s eager to get back on the court.

I still want to play,” Holiday said. “That’s part of the reason I play basketball. But it’s also keeping rhythm. Sometimes when you’re out for a long time you break rhythm, but I feel like I’ve been in a good groove and I want to continue to play.”

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • Backup forward Sam Hauser missed a couple games with an ankle sprain he sustained vs. Washington, but he returned to action in Friday’s victory, Himmelsbach adds in the same story. The third-year sharpshooter says he was relieved the injury wasn’t more serious. “It didn’t feel great, that’s for sure,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect or how it was going to feel in the days to come, but it’s felt pretty good throughout the week.”
  • Giving Payton Pritchard a four-year, $30MM rookie scale extension last offseason is looking like a shrewd decision by the Celtics, according to Brian Robb of MassLive, who says the fourth-year guard has outperformed that deal this season, though the extension doesn’t begin until 2024/25. “Payton’s been great, and I’m not surprised, to be honest,” Jaylen Brown said. “Some guys just got a certain mentality they carry themselves with. Payton is somebody you don’t worry about. Even in the lowest of times he’s a hard worker and his mindset is phenomenal in terms of a relentless, never-give-up warrior-type mentality. So you put him out there, I’m not surprised at anything we’re seeing now. It’s just now the work is coming to fruition.” Pritchard has been logging major minutes of late with Holiday injured and is arguably playing his best basketball of the season.
  • Guard Derrick White met the 65-game criteria for postseason awards on Friday, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. White earned a spot on the All-Defensive Second Team in 2022/23 and is having another excellent campaign. White has three pending bonuses, Marks notes — the 29-year-old will earn $250K if he makes another All-Defensive team, $500K if he makes at least 185 threes (he’s currently at 172), and $500K if he appears in 70 games.
  • Robb of MassLive lists four takeaways from Friday’s blowout victory, including a big night for Brown, who finished with 33 points on 13-of-19 shooting.
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