Payton Pritchard shoots a floater against the Oklahoma City Thunder

Keys to the Game: Celtics 126, Thunder 122

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

Key Moment

Payton Pritchard initiated the comeback, and Marcus Smart finished it.

Boston trailed by as many as 15 points late in the third quarter before Pritchard fueled a comeback that gave his team a chance. Marcus Smart then took over down the stretch and deposited a notch in the Celtics’ win column by scoring or assisting on 17 of the team’s final 21 points.

Rewind to late in the third quarter when Pritchard returned to the game with 2:41 left on the clock and Oklahoma City leading by 13. Pritchard closed out the quarter with a long 3-pointer from the left wing with 44.3 seconds left to beat the shot clock, and then with a buzzer-beating layup that followed a steal at midcourt.

Those five points made it a seven-point game heading into the final quarter and built a wave of momentum inside TD Garden.

Boston’s scrappy reserve guard, who is earning significant minutes again while Malcolm Brogdon is out with an injury, continued to energize the C’s during the opening minutes of the fourth. He grabbed another steal, made a 3-pointer, and assisted on another triple by Sam Hauser before checking out with Boston trailing by six with 7:46 left in the game.

Smart is the man who replaced him on the floor, and Smart picked up right where Pritchard left off. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year was everywhere over the final six-plus minutes as he tallied 10 points, three assists and three rebounds to push Boston to a 126-122 win.

The first basket of that stretch was a cutting dunk by Jayson Tatum, which Smart assisted on to tie the game up at 107-107. The C’s never trailed again after they pulled ahead 111-110, thanks almost entirely to Smart’s clutch stretch of play that included multiple buckets in the paint to go along with a pair of timely assists to Derrick White.

Key Player

While Payton Pritchard and Marcus Smart were the stars of tonight’s comeback, it was Jaylen Brown who played at a high level throughout Monday’s contest.

Brown was in attack mode all night long and as a result poured in 26 points for the Celtics on 11-for-21 shooting. He shot 11-for-16 from inside the arc, including an 8-for-11 effort from inside the paint.

The star wing, who’s sure looking like he’ll make his second All-Star appearance, rounded out his box score with six rebounds and six assists to go along with one steal. He put up these numbers while playing a team-high 41 minutes.

Box Score Nuggets

  • The teams shot nearly identical numbers from the field: 47-for-98 for OKC, and 46-for-96 for Boston.
  • The top two scorers off the bench were both Celtics, with Derrick White scoring 16 and Payton Pritchard adding in 10.
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the game in scoring with 37 points, and in assists with eight.
  • Marcus Smart tied Gilgeous-Alexander for the game's top assist mark with eight. Smart also scored a season-best 22 points.
  • Boston scored a whopping 64 points in the paint.
  • Jayson Tatum stuffed the stat sheet with 27 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and three blocked shots.
  • Jaylen Brown scored 26 points and added in six rebounds and six assists.
  • Aleksej Pokusevski led the game in rebounding with 14 and also scored 16 points.
  • Boston grabbed more steals (15) than it committed turnovers (14).
  • White led the game with four steals to match OKC's team total.

Quote of the Night

"We're a reflection of him and his leadership."

- Joe Mazzulla on Marcus Smart