Celtics point guard Malcolm Brogdon missed Friday’s 131-112 home win over the Nuggets due to right hamstring tightness. Interim coach Joe Mazzulla said Brogdon is considered day-to-day and will likely be back “sooner rather than later.”
Brogdon began experiencing tightness during the first half of the Celtics’ win over the Pistons on Wednesday and sat out the second half.
Payton Pritchard will play a larger role while Brogdon is sidelined. The third-year guard had appeared in just four games, averaging a career-low 7.3 minutes before Friday, when he played a season-high 16 minutes, scoring 11 points with five rebounds, four of which came on the offensive end, and a steal.
”Payton is a guy that’s always been staying ready,” Mazzulla said. “You guys know his work ethic and I think it’s just small moments of affirmation, just reiterating that it’s the NBA, it’s a long season, and things are going to happen. Yes, your time is going to come. And also for Payton, I know whenever that time is, I trust you that you’re going to be ready because of your work ethic and your mind-set, so I think it’s just, he’s great at being prepared for that moment.”
Pritchard was 3 for 3 from the field in the first half with three offensive rebounds, and he was a central figure in a second-quarter play that delighted Boston’s bench and infuriated Nuggets coach Mike Malone. On that trip down the court, the Celtics gobbled up four offensive rebounds, with Pritchard tussling amid the trees and grabbing one. Denver center DeAndre Jordan finally came up with the ball after another miss, but Pritchard slithered in, ripped it away, and converted a layup.
Thomas surprises Smart at his charity event
Celtics guard Marcus Smart said he raised more than $200,000 for his YounGameChanger Foundation at his annual Bowling Bash charity event in Back Bay on Thursday night.
“It was a blast,” Smart said. “It was really good to finally get back on track. COVID stopped a lot of the foundation events for me. We couldn’t do a lot of stuff, so to get back out there and do that felt good. And it feels really good because the foundation speaks for itself. That just goes to show that I’m doing what I’m supposed to do and it’s growing, and I think it means a lot more to the kids we’re helping.”
Smart said the night became even better when former Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas arrived as a surprise guest.
“They didn’t tell me who it was, and I was not thinking Isaiah at all,” Smart said. “So to see him just meant a lot. Me and Isaiah go farther than basketball. We’re off the court. When you build a connection with someone like that who’s genuine, it’s tough to break it. Being able to see him was great.”
Thomas, who played for the Hornets last season, remains a free agent. Smart said the two did not discuss Thomas’s next career steps.
“But he looked good and we’re praying for him,” Smart said, “hoping he can get back on his feet with everything.”
Dishing out joy
Entering Friday, the Celtics had registered assists on 62.6 percent of their baskets this season, a slight uptick from last season’s 60.9. Forward Jayson Tatum said passing has been a point of emphasis.
“Just everybody’s willingness to play with pace and share the ball and trust that once you give it up, it will come back,” Tatum said. “I think when we all have that trust, the ball will find you when you make the right play and play the right way. Everybody’s getting shots and opportunities, and everybody’s happy.”