Monday, April 10, 2023

Celtics 120, Hawks 114: Payton Pritchard records first career triple-double in regular-season finale

The Celtics wrapped up the 2022-23 regular season with a 120-114 win over the Atlanta Hawks at TD Garden during a matinee on Easter Sunday.

Payton Pritchard finished with his first career triple-double of 30 points (10-of-21 from the field), including 9-of-16 from deep, to go along with 14 rebounds and 11 assists in 46 minutes as a starter.
"The way his career has gone as far as playing time and not playing time, he's always handled it the right way," Boston head coach Joe Mazzulla said of Pritchard. "He has a competitiveness, a professionalism and work ethic about him."
With Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Robert Williams and Malcolm Brogdon all taking the afternoon off, Pritchard put on a show and became just the third player in franchise history to reach 30 points, with 14 rebounds and 11 assists in a game, joining Hall of Famers Larry Bird and John Havlicek.
"Special crew to be a part of," Pritchard said during his postgame presser. "Definitely feel honored. I looked forward to these last two games as an opportunity to go out and play and show what I'm capable of."
Mike Muscala had 27 points on 4-of-7 from 3-point range, while Sam Hauser added 26 points -- connecting on 8-of-14 from behind the arc and Luke Kornet chipped in 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists off the bench to help the Celtics improve to 57-25 (the most wins since the 2008-09 campaign).

Bruno Fernando registered a double-double of 19 points, 10 rebounds and Garrison Mathews also scored 19 points to lead Atlanta. Jalen Johnson netted 15 points and De' Andre Hunter scored 14 points for the Hawks -- who finished 41-41 and with the eighth best record for now.

Atlanta played without regular starters Trae Young, Dejounte Murray, Clint Capela, John Collins (tight lower back) and Bogdan Bogdanovic.

They'll take on the Miami Heat in Tuesday's play in game, with the winner facing the Celtics in the first-round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs as the No. 7 seed.

Boston trailed 64-61 at the break, before using a 19-6 run to open up the third quarter to take a lead for good and by as many as 14 points.

The Celtics conclude the season as the No. 2 seed in the East and are 3-0 against the Hawks and 2-2 against the Heat. They will have home court advantage in a best-of-7 series which begins next Saturday -- Game 1 tips off at 3:30 ET on ESPN.

Game Notes:

Boston hit 47.2% from the field, including 25-of-54 (46.3%) from 3-point range, while the Hawks were 45.4% from the floor and 11-of-39 (28.2%) from long distance. The Celtics were out-rebounded 50-47 and outscored in the paint 60-30. The C's handed out 33 assists (15 turnovers) on 42 baskets to Atlanta's 27 dimes (nine turnovers) on 44 made shots.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of USA Today

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