Photo: Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images

With Marcus Smart taking a premature leave against the Toronto Raptors due to a troubling left ankle injury, the Boston Celtics needed every ounce of presence from Payton Pritchard.

Pritchard, who embraced taking a backseat for the Celtics this season due to their backcourt logjam, came up huge when it mattered. Playing 26 minutes and not sitting in the entire final frame, he delivered four big three-pointers to help Boston steer away over Toronto in a competitive Sunday game matchup, 106-104.

In the postgame, with all people giving their attention to him as the Cs’ sudden unsung hero, Pritchard took pride in his reputation, toughness, and capability to perform when being called up.

“We’re a bunch of tough dudes and, for me, I wouldn’t be in the position I am today without having a tough mindset,” Pritchard following the 106-104 win, via MassLive’s Souichi Terada. “A lot of people look at me and I’m (a) 6-foot-1 white American guard, a lot of us aren’t there. So we gotta be tough and bring it every day.”

As he was placed at the back of Smart, Malcolm Brogdon, and Derrick White in the team’s loaded guard slate, Pritchard has been consistently subjected to plenty of trade speculations.

But this weekend win only proved the hesitancy of the Celtics to cut their ties on the third-year pro. While limited exposure will definitely be there, the team can still rely on Pritchard when unwanted occurrences occur – which definitely helps their stronghold as a championship powerhouse and current league-leading team over the other 29 teams in the standings this season.

For coach Joe Mazzulla, the young guard out of Oregon is very much deserving of flowers for displaying his resiliency and hard work when daunting times are on the horizon.

“I’m happy for Payton,” Mazzulla said. “This league can be unforgiving at times. You have to be strong-minded, you got to work hard, you got to be patient. 

“Payton’s all of those things. I’ve always told him: Whenever it’s his time, I trust him completely. He was great tonight.”