The Boston Celtics have been shorthanded for much of the season due to various injuries and COVID-19-related matters, and, unfortunately, that trend is set to continue. On Saturday, the team announced that rookie guard Payton Pritchard is set to miss at least two weeks with a sprained MCL in his right knee.
Pritchard suffered the injury on Friday night during the Celtics' loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. Late in the first quarter, Dwight Howard knocked over Jaylen Brown, sending him tumbling to the ground. Brown fell into Pritchard's leg, which bent awkwardly and caused the rookie some serious pain. Pritchard remained on the floor for a few minutes while he was attended to by the medical staff, and was then helped off the court to the locker room.
It's never good when someone gets injured, but all things considered, this has to be a bit of a relief for Pritchard and the Celtics. Given his reaction on the floor, it seemed like it might be a real serious problem, rather than a relatively minor one. Still, the Celtics will miss him while he's on the sidelines.
Many thought Danny Ainge reached when he took Pritchard with the No. 26 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, but the Oregon product won praise from his veteran teammates in training camp and became an important role player off the bench almost immediately.
His ability to create off the dribble was a huge boost when Kemba Walker was out, he can knock down open 3s and even had a game-winning putback against the Miami Heat earlier in the season. In fact, Pritchard's plus-15.8 net rating differential is the best among all Celtics players this season.
With Pritchard out, Jeff Teague figures to take on a much bigger role in the back-up point guard spot behind Walker.