In a sudden death Game 7 at the TD Garden two teams that had battled all series were finally going to decide who would move on to face the dominant Cleveland Cavaliers. In what seemed like a back and forth game all night the fourth quarter came closer and it was unclear which team was going to pull ahead. It was clear one player was going to have to step up for their team to have the right to move on.
Enter Kelly Olynyk, the 7’0″ Canadian Center and former Gonzaga University standout. Olynyk is in the fourth year of his rookie contract and looking to re-sign with the Boston Celtics this Summer. If there was ever a time for him to prove his worth this would be it, and he made sure to seize the opportunity.
Olynyk Started the 4th quarter with an assist to rookie Jaylen Brown, who also had a good performance, but that is not where Olynyk would make his mark. Throughout the next 12 minutes Olynyk would shoot 5/6 from the field and score 14 points to close out the series. Confidence exuded from Olynyk with something Celtics fans had never seen before, social media reacted properly.
Every time the Washington Wizards would inch closer to closing the gap between them and the Celtics, Olynyk would somehow make a miraculous play. Whether it was a three-point shot or a hard drive to the basket it appeared as though he just could not miss. The benefit to having a 7’0″ Center who can shoot is remarkable as Olynyk stretched floor completely all night showing that Washington had no answer for him.
Capping off a night from the bench with 26 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists on 10-14 from the field Olynyk proved he can be a pivotal role player on this Celtics team. With other notable performances from Isaiah Thomas, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart the Celtics capped of the Wizards series with a 115-105 victory and the right to play Lebron James in the Eastern Conference Finals. With Celtics fans being harsh on Olynyk more than other players for quite some time now, they let him know how much they appreciated his heroic performance.
It will be interesting to see how Olynyk plays against Tristian Thompson in the Eastern Conference Finals, but hopefully he can carry over his swagger. This summer Olynyk will be looking for a new contract with the Celtics and if the price is right they should jump on the chance. Olynyk is only 26 years old and seems to have found his offensive stride this season, if he can bulk up and work on rebounding he could be a premier backup Center in the league.