Payton Pritchard missed his fifth straight game with a sprained right knee Tuesday night against Golden State, but the rookie point guard may soon be part of the mix again — a promising development, considering the injury-related absence of Marcus Smart.
Pritchard, who is on the trip that started Tuesday night against Golden State, will likely carry day-to-day status starting with Wednesday night’s game in Sacramento. According to Brad Stevens, Pritchard may actually play against the Kings.
“Once he’s available he’ll obviously be part of the rotation,” said the Celtics coach. “It’s just a matter of when he’s cleared. He came to the gym early today and did more, and I did not hear how it went. And then, we’re just at it basically day-to-day after today. I do not know if he will play (Wednesday) night or not, but I don’t think it’s out of the question. But I’ll learn more on the bus ride to Sacramento tonight after the game.”
Wannamaker faces C’s
Brad Wanamaker was a 29-year-old NBA rookie when he first joined the Celtics, and everything considered — from two years in Boston to what he’s now enjoying with Golden State as Steph Curry’s backup — he admits his career couldn’t follow a much better path short of winning a title.
“It was pretty cool, just seeing what they did over the last couple of years and the championships they won. To have a championship team reach out was pretty exciting,” he said of joining the Warriors last offseason on a minimum contract.
“Before I came to the NBA I was a fan, watched those guys win in those playoff battles. Pretty cool when they reached out,” he said. “My son got excited because he’s a Steph Curry fan. It just seemed like the right fit — the style of play, I heard about the guys in the locker room, the mindset. It was a no-brainer.”
And if Wanamaker had to select a superstar to play with, it sounds like he picked the perfect player. Coach Steve Kerr likes the way Wannamaker complements Curry enough that he’ll often play them together.
“It’s great, he’s so unselfish,” he said of Curry. “It’s cool because he shares the rock. So it’s cool to take some pressure off him, get the ball out of his hands a little bit and try to make the game easier for him. It’s pretty easy with a talented guy like him who’s willing to feed off other players. It’s still an adjustment. I’m still learning where he likes the ball, and other guys as well.”
In the meantime, the two young stars he played with in Boston are once again having career years.
“Just more mature,” he said of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. “You see the way they play, just get into their spots. They know they’re really good. When you get that confidence, knowing you are the best on the court every night, it shows. They put in so much work in the gym. It’s great to see what they’re doing. The sky’s the limit for them. It’s great to see their growth from afar, and what they can be.
“I think they’re right there. The work (Draymond Green) and Steph put in is very similar, day in and day out. Jaylen and Jayson definitely have that.”
Kemba kicking himself
Kemba Walker was noticeably down on himself following Sunday’s 1-for-12 performance against the Lakers. But Stevens simply wants all of his offensive leaders to relax.
“Everything feels better when you make a couple of shots,” said Stevens. “We’ve got to have Jayson and Jaylen be very good. We have to have Kemba be very good. We’re not as deep as we’ve been and so we need those three guys to just be themselves. We don’t need them, any of them, overly concerned about getting others involved as much as just, just be you and we’ll all get you involved.
“That’s the task for the rest of us,” he said. “I think that that’s the bottom line on our team. We’re going to need everything all those guys have. And that’s one of the quandaries is with this season being what it is, with the quick turnaround, and then these games coming at the pace they’re about to come, and have come, is that we also can’t run those guys into the ground. So it’s a catch 22 in some ways, but all they need to do is just be themselves.”