Joe Mazzulla Saw This As Clear ‘Play Of The Game’ In Celtics NBA Finals Game 2 Win

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Boston Celtics guard Derrick White had a game-sealing block in the final minute. White also had another terrific sequence in the fourth quarter in which he stole a pass and fed the ball to Jrue Holiday for back-breaking 3-pointer.

But those didn’t fit into the category of play of the game for Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla in Boston’s Game 2 NBA Finals win.

Instead, Mazzulla pointed to Payton Pritchard coming off the bench and drilling a 34-foot, buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the third quarter, which gave the Celtics an 83-74 lead. And Mazzulla made sure that play was his first topic of discussion at his postgame press conference even though he was initially asked about Jayson Tatum’s near triple-double performance.

“I think the play of the game can’t go unnoticed, the humility of our team, is Payton’s shot at the end of the quarter,” Mazzulla told reporters, per league-provided transcript. “You see guys around the league pass up on that shot or fake like they want to take it, so that their numbers don’t get messed up. He takes pride in taking that, and that’s winning basketball. So that’s the first and foremost.”

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Pritchard, whose only made shot in 12 minutes was that very long triple, checked into the game for the first time in the second half with 3.1 seconds to go in the third quarter and with Kyrie Irving at the free-throw line. After Irving made the pair, Pritchard received the inbound pass and raced up the court before pulling up just past half-court. The shot banked-in, drawing a roar from the TD Garden crowd.

And after plenty of discussion about who is the Celtics best player, Mazzulla sure was glad to see a role player come up in a big spot and contribute to a team effort to give Boston a 2-0 series lead.

“That should have been the first question, is the ability of everybody on our team to do different things that lead to winning,” Mazzulla said. “I’m really tired of hearing about one guy or this guy or that guy and everybody trying to make it out to be anything other than Celtic basketball. Everybody that stepped on that court today made winning plays on both ends of the floor, is the most important thing.”

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