Boston’s Joe Mazzulla shares why he went with Payton Pritchard over Grant Williams in Game 1

Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla turned some heads in surprise in the Celtics’ Game 1 loss to the Miami Heat in the NBA’s 2023 Eastern Conference finals on Wednesday by playing seldom-used reserve point guard Payton Pritchard.

After practice on Thursday, Mazzulla shared why he went with the Oregon native in the high-leverage contest via CLNS Media. “I like his aggressiveness, I like his ability to change the momentum and energy of the game,” explained the Celtics coach of a player who took and missed two shots to go scoreless with a single assist and a -3 plus/minus while on the floor.

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“I think he brings a level of physicality in our pick-and-roll defense, which is important in this series,” suggested Mazzulla, who later explained that the reason he went with Pritchard over a player like Grant Williams was due to Pritchard’s “shooting, with his playmaking, and his pick-and-roll defense.”

“Grant is always going to be ready and we’ve built a lot of versatility and depth in our lineup to where we can go a lot of different ways. We trust that anybody we call will be ready,” he added.

Williams would allow Boston to keep two shooters playing in the frontcourt without giving up size, and ought to see some floor time with Al Horford in this series because of it.


Pritchard may indeed be a good microwave option off of the bench, but Mazzulla’s explanation still leaves at least some fans and analysts confused given options like Williams and Sam Hauser could also be deployed.

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Story originally appeared on Celtics Wire