Celtics Notebook: Payton Pritchard adapts

Though he shot 50% from 3-point range (6-for-12) over his first two games since returning from a sprained knee, Payton Pritchard admits that the injury is still on his mind.

“Definitely some mental hesitations. I don’t know, it’s still getting there,” he said before Tuesday night’s game against Utah. “I wouldn’t say 100% just yet, but coming from injury you’re kind of hesitant to do certain moves, or shoot it at the rim. But I think each day I’m getting better, and I’m close to being 100.”

Brad Stevens noticed that hesitation, and pushed Pritchard to start shooting with his pre-injury confidence.

“I just think it tells me is that when I step on the court I have to be in attack mode,” said Pritchard. “That doesn’t mean shoot it every time, but being aggressive at both ends of the floor, getting into people on defense. When my shot’s there take it, and when I drive it get a teammate open.

“I think just going forward, I need to come in with a fire and be willing to just go make plays,” he said. “And it’s OK to make mistakes, and just play the game with an aggression. The biggest thing I’ve learned is I guess when you step on the floor in an NBA game, you’ve got to be ready on both ends of the floor at all times because everybody’s a threat and you just need to go out there and put everything on the line.”

Injury report

Jaylen Brown returned from a two-game, knee related absence against the Jazz, once again enabling the Celtics to put their three best scorers back on the floor together.

“Should be full strength, didn’t miss obviously much time,” said Stevens. “He was feeling better Sunday, so he was trending towards playing today.”

Stevens added that he didn’t receive an update on Marcus Smart, who remained in Boston rehabbing his torn left calf. His original timeline called for two or three weeks of rehabilitation after the Celtics guard had an MRI taken of the injury on Jan. 31.

He has now been out for nine days.

“I don’t expect him back anytime in the near, near future, with regard to our upcoming games,” said Stevens, who also didn’t have an update on Romeo Langford’s recovery from wrist surgery.

Inside shots

With Sunday’s loss in Phoenix a good example, the Celtics have been horrible inside the arc, and especially at the rim. Better decisions have to be made, said Stevens, especially where Utah’s Rudy Gobert is concerned.

“I think we have to make better decisions in those areas,” said the Celtics coach. “A lot of teams funnel you into the big. They funnel you into the size. This is one of them. So if you try to challenge Gobert at the rim you lose. Like you end up going 16-for-50.

“That’s the way that this defense is built, is to try to funnel everything into him and he protects them,” said Stevens. “And I think that they’ve done a great job over the years of also adjusting the teams that space him. Some of the late switching that they do, we call veering. He’ll be up some more than it used to be in the last couple of years. And so this is an expertly coached team who make every shot difficult to come by. But we have to do a better job of going through a simple progression of reads and taking the right shots at the right time. Some of that is on an individual move and some of that is getting off the ball. Again, I think that they’re the standard bearer at that right now.”

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