3 Celtics on Thin Ice Despite Strong Start to Season

Boston sits third in Eastern Conference despite dropping back-to-back games

Jaylen Brown is averaging 21.4 points per game this season, but he's also been held under 40 percent from the field on three occasions.
Jaylen Brown is averaging 21.4 points per game this season, but he's also been held under 40 percent from the field on three occasions. / Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
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After looking unbeatable while opening the season with five straight victories, the Boston Celtics have been hit with their first dose of adversity.

Boston has dropped back-to-back games, most recently falling 106-103 to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night. The Celtics trailed by 14 with just under two minutes remaining in the contest, but they fought valiantly, making it a one-possession game when Jaylen Brown drilled a 3-pointer with 32.5 seconds to go.

Kristaps Porzingis later got a great look at a potential game-tying trey, but he came up short, dropping Boston to 5-2 on the young season.

Porzingis finished with a game-high 29 points, while Derrick White supplied 19 in his return from a two-game absence due to the birth of his second child. Jayson Tatum also made his presence felt with a 16-point, 15-rebound double-double.

This team wasn't going to go 82-0, so there was bound to be a few bumps in the road at some point. So far, this week has been one of those bumps, and both losses came in very winnable games.

Two setbacks in early November won't be the difference between a title and a premature playoff exit, but these past two games have exposed some of the Celtics' weaknesses.

Even though Boston is off to a hot start, here are three players who are failing to live up to expectations out of the gate:

Payton Pritchard

Just a few weeks ago, Pritchard looked like he was about to take the league by storm -- off the bench, of course.

He had just signed a four-year, $30 million extension and was stealing the spotlight in the preseason, going on to finish with averages of 15.6 points, 1.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists while shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 36.2 percent from 3-point range in five games.

All signs were pointing toward Pritchard being a solid sixth man, but then the games started to matter.

Once the regular season hit, Pritchard seemed to lose his confidence, and he still hasn't found it. The 25-year-old is shooting a nightmarish 23.5 percent from the floor and 15 percent from beyond the arc while providing just 3.1 points per game.

With each passing day that Pritchard continues to struggle, Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens probably looks just a little bit deeper into the trade market.

Now isn't the right time to give Pritchard the hook, but if his numbers are in the same ballpark as the season progresses and games get more meaningful, Boston is going to have to explore other options.