By MyFM's Jake Archer - Sometimes in sports, the unlikeliest heroes are the ones who step up and deliver in the biggest moments. On Monday night in Boston, that was the case as Celtics big man Kelly Olynyk had the game of his life and helped push his team by the Washington Wizards for a 115-105 win in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Olynyk has been around as a Celtic for a while now and he certainly catches quite a bit of flack from the fans. He’s been seen as a goofy, kind of out of control player who the Celtics wasted a draft pick on. He has his nice moments now and then, but he’s never quite done enough to endear himself to everyone. Last night, that all changed.
Kelly has had a pretty decent postseason so far, but if you were guessing that he’d be the one to step up and put on a show in a Game 7, you’re probably crazy. I mean this is a guy who is best known for his hair, his confrontations with opposing players and his years as a Gonzaga star. To think he’d perform at a high level and write his name into Celtics lore by having some kind of out of body experience is nuts.
The contributions from Olynyk were much needed as well, because the Celtics had to see some bench production. Behind Olynyk’s playoff career-high 26 points, 13 from Marcus Smart and nine from Jaylen Brown, the C’s bench outscored Washington’s 48-5. Olynyk’s 26 were the most by a Celtics reserve since Eddie House dropped 31 in the 2009 playoffs and the most by any reserve in a Game 7 since Leandro Barbosa scored 26 for the Phoenix Suns.
Olynyk also grabbed five rebounds and dished four assists while seemingly making impact play after impact play. It seemed like he was going shot for shot with Wizards guard Bradley Beal at times and during one five-minute fourth quarter stretch Kelly actually outscored Washington by himself.
The game was won by the whole team though as many Celtics chipped in throughout. Isaiah Thomas scored 29 points while grabbing 12 assists and a steal. When the C’s needed a big shot, IT stepped up and drilled one like the superstar that he is. Al Horford and Jae Crowder combined for 29 points, five assists, eleven rebounds and two steals. Marcus Smart came up with six rebounds, four assists and two blocks.
The Wizards on the other hand, didn’t have a great night from their bench, which really let down the starters who played pretty well. Beal tried his hardest to keep his team in the game as he dropped 38 points and Otto Porter scored 20 while grabbing ten rebounds. Marcus Morris and John Wall both put up 18 and Wall grabbed seven rebounds and 11 assists. The Wizards star went very quiet late though and essentially disappeared as his team let the game slip away.
Kelly Olynyk’s counterpart in the Game 3 dustup between the teams was Kelly Oubre Jr. As Olynyk lit it up and had the Garden crowd chanting his name, Oubre stood on the sidelines for all but six seconds. In the end, I was wrong about the Wizards winning in 7 and I’m happy about it. The Celtics overcame some terrible officiating, some blow out losses and a host of other things to out perform my expectations. Now, they’ll move on to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2012.
I don’t know how I feel about this next series just yet, so I’ll wait until tomorrow to make my pick. I just know that facing off with LeBron James and the defending champion Cavaliers is about as big of a challenge as the C’s can ask for.