Celtics

Is Pritchard having a better season to date than struggling Kemba?

Celtics

Two days after hanging 119 points on the Los Angeles Clippers, the Boston Celtics ran out of buckets.

The Celtics shot just 35.5% from the floor Sunday in a 100-91 loss to the Phoenix Suns, falling to 2-2 on their West Coast road trip.

Jayson Tatum led the way with 23 points but Boston's supporting cast struggled without Jaylen Brown, as Kemba Walker endured another rough shooting performance.

Celtics-Suns highlights: Offense sputters without Jaylen Brown

Here's what we're overreacting to from the Celtics' loss, which drops them to 12-10 on the season:

1. Payton Pritchard is having a better season than Kemba Walker.

Are we getting ahead of ourselves here? Maybe. But Walker still can't find his stroke. The Celtics point guard is shooting a career-low 35.7% on the season after scoring 14 points on 4-for-20 shooting Sunday and failing to make a single 2-pointer (0-for-9 from inside the arc).

Meanwhile, Pritchard continues to play like he belongs on an NBA floor. The rookie dropped 12 points on 11 fewer shots than Walker (4-for-9) and hit a couple clutch 3-pointers to help Boston get back into the game in the third quarter. He's shooting just below 50% on the season as he eyes the elusive 50-40-90 campaign.

Walker has only played in nine games this season after undergoing an offseason knee procedure, so it's not time to hit the panic button just yet. He's also averaging more points, rebounds and assists per game than Pritchard. But he's nowhere close to the All-Star player he was in Charlotte, and the Celtics need that elite scorer to return soon.

 

Verdict: Overreaction

2. Tristan Thompson has found his niche in Boston.

The Celtics don't need Thompson to put up 20 points per game. What they do need is for the big man to make an impact on the boards and hold his own against other bigs in the paint.

Thompson did just that Sunday. He scored just six points but pulled down a season-high 12 rebounds -- six of which were on the offensive glass -- while helping keep several Boston possessions alive.

The 29-year-old is averaging 11.8 points and 9.3 rebounds since entering the starting lineup four games ago. The C's could use a bit more from Thompson on the offensive end than they got Sunday, but his work on the glass was a big reason why this game was close.

Verdict: Slight overreaction

3. Time for Carsen Edwards to head back to the bench.

Edwards had been playing well enough to earn his first career NBA start Sunday. But the second-year guard looked overmatched against Phoenix's starting five. Edwards made just one of his six shot attempts in 17 minutes of play, while Suns guard Devin Booker went at him early to get several buckets in the first quarter.

It sounds like Jaylen Brown could return for Tuesday's game against the Jazz, but even if Brown sits out another game, Edwards should be relegated to a bench role in Utah.

Verdict: Not an overreaction