On the second night of a back-to-back, it was the Boston Celtics second unit's time to shine in Monday's preseason tilt vs. the New York Knicks.
C's head coach Joe Mazzulla opted to give his starters the night off after they played most of Sunday's preseason opener win over the Philadelphia 76ers. The Madison Square Garden lights weren't too bright for Boston's backups, who held their own against New York's starters in the 114-107 defeat.
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Boston kept it close until the final minute with help from point guards Payton Pritchard (21 points) and Dalano Banton (20). Svi Mykhailiuk also made an impact with a 15-point effort.
The Knicks were led by a 21-point performance by Immanuel Quickley. Fouls proved to be the difference as New York was 25-for-33 from the free-throw line. Boston was 15-for-19.
Boston's preseason continues Wednesday night in Philadelphia. Before we turn the page to that matchup, here are our takeaways from Monday's game.
An encore from Payton Pritchard
Pritchard stole the show with a game-high 26 points in the win over Philly, and he gave fans an encore Monday night at MSG.
The Celtics guard, with the ink still drying on the four-year contract extension he signed Sunday, led all scorers again with 21 points.
He shot 7-for-15 from the floor (4-11 3-PT) with five assists, five rebounds, and three steals in 29 minutes.
Perhaps it's too early to tell, but Pritchard looks like he's taken a legitimate leap heading into Year 4 of his NBA career. He's still stuck behind talented guards (Derrick White, Jrue Holiday) on the depth chart, but he should play an even bigger role off the bench this time around. All signs point toward him being up for the challenge.
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More newcomers showing potential
A day after all eyes were on prized offseason additions Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday, the Celtics' lesser-known newcomers got a chance to show off their talents.
Six-foot-7 point guard Dalano Banton and journeyman wing Svi Mykhailiuk, both signed to partially-guaranteed contracts, put their stamps on this game early and often with 20 and 15 points, respectively. They dropped eight points apiece in the first quarter.
Banton went 8-of-19 from the floor while Mykhailiuk hit five of his nine shots, including three 3-pointers.
Former Cleveland Cavaliers forward Lamar Stevens (11 points) and ex-Indiana Pacers forward Oshae Brissett (10 points) were the other C's in double figures. Stevens also notched eight rebounds while shooting 5-for-12 from the floor.
Neemias Queta auditions for frontcourt role
With Robert Williams shipped off to Portland, the Celtics could use some frontcourt help behind Kristaps Porzingis and Al Horford. Neemias Queta, a 7-footer signed to a two-way contract last month, showed flashes of promise in his C's debut.
The 2022-23 G-League MVP runner-up quickly provided a spark with a strong putback in the first quarter. He tallied seven points in total with four boards and a block in 14 minutes.
There's potential there, but Queta has to cut down on the fouls. He racked up five during his brief time on the court, continuing a troubling trend that dates back to his college days. Before the Celtics can consider giving him regular minutes, that's an issue that must be addressed.
Jordan Walsh showcases his skillset
Walsh picked up where he left off in Summer League with a promising showing on Monday night.
The rookie second-rounder out of Arkansas prides himself on his defense, and that was evident in the second quarter when he made his presence felt with a steal and a layup on the other end for his first NBA bucket.
Walsh finished with four points, six rebounds, and two steals in his 18 minutes. We know the offense is a work in progress, but the defense looked as advertised. It'll be fun to see how the 19-year-old develops over the course of the season.
Sam Hauser still searching for his shot
Hauser has yet to find his groove through the Celtics' first two preseason games. The 6-foot-8 forward, who shot 41.8 percent from beyond the arc last season, is just 2-for-15 from long range thus far.
It certainly isn't time to hit the panic button. Hauser has proven to be a streaky shooter whose hot stretches outweigh his cold spells. There's little doubt he'll snap out of his current funk to give Boston a much-needed scoring punch off the bench again this upcoming season.
He should get a chance to start one of those hot streaks this Wednesday night.