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Mazzulla credits Pritchard for ‘play of the game' in Game 2 win

Mazzulla credits Pritchard for ‘play of the game' in Game 2 win originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

After a rocky start, the Boston Celtics rallied to beat the Dallas Mavericks 105-98 in Game 2 of the 2024 NBA Finals on Sunday night and take a 2-0 series lead. And while Jrue Holiday and Jaylen Brown dominated the stat sheet, it was Payton Pritchard who received praise from Boston's head coach Joe Mazzulla following Sunday night's win at TD Garden.

In his postgame press conference, Mazzulla bypassed the first question and instead talked about Pritchard's buzzer-beater shot. With Boston leading by six points and just 3.3 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Jayson Tatum inbounded the ball to Pritchard, who sprinted up the court and heaved a 34-foot 3-point shot that went in to beat the buzzer.

"I think the play of the game can't go unnoticed -- the humility of our team -- is Payton's shot at the end of the quarter," Mazzulla told the media. "You see guys around the league pass up on that shot, or fake like they want to take it so that their numbers don't get messed up -- he takes pride in taking that, and that's winning basketball."

Mazzulla added that Pritchard's shot should have been asked about first, noting that it shows how every player on the roster has different abilities that come together and lead to winning. After Mavs coach Jason Kidd attempted to play mind games by stating that Jaylen Brown is the best player in Boston, Mazzulla reminded the media what it is really all about.

"I'm really tired about hearing about one guy or this guy or that guy, and everybody trying to make it out to be anything other than Celtic basketball," Mazzulla added. "Everybody that stepped out on that court tonight made winning plays on both ends of the floor, so that's the most important thing."

Teammate Derrick White also added praise for Pritchard, noting that these buzzer-beater shots are nothing new for him.

"That's just what Payton Pritchard does," White said. "Late clock, he doesn't shy away from that moment. That was a big time shot, it kind of got us the momentum. You just love Payton, love competing with him -- it was just a big time shot."

NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chin caught up with Pritchard following the win to discuss what Mazzulla called "a winning play."

"I was just ready for that moment," Pritchard said of the buzzer-beater. "Joe put me in with three seconds left, so I like those moments. I live for them. So, I took full advantage."

In 12 minutes of action, Pritchard tallied two assists, a rebound, and a steal to go along with his three points.

With a 2-0 series lead, the Celtics will now travel to Dallas for Game 3 on Wednesday night at 8:30 p.m. ET, with NBC Sports Boston's Celtics Pregame Live coverage beginning at 7 p.m. ET.