Thanks to a big night from oafish backup center guy Kelly Olynyk, the Boston Celtics took Game 7 from the Washington Wizards tonight, 115-105, and won the honor of trying to stop LeBron James and the Cavs. They will probably not fare that well, but whatever, this is their night.
The Celtics and Wizards couldn’t achieve much separation from each other for most of the game. Boston began the game on a big run and it seemed for a bit that these horrid playoffs would turn out another clunker in what was supposed to be a great game. But Bradley Beal got loose for whatever he wanted on the perimeter, and both teams played too nervously to truly break away until the start of the third quarter. Wall got to the rim even more persistently, and the open threes that the Boston offense inevitably produces for Jae Crowder or Avery Bradley stopped falling.
Then, the Celtics exploded. Thomas canned back-to-back threes, and Marcus Smart capped the quarter off with one of his own. Boston carried their positive momentum into the fourth quarter, where Olynyk took over. He scored 14 of his 26 in the fourth, including both of his threes. Markieff Morris got right in his face and Olynyk still nailed almost everything he threw up.
Thomas led the Celtics with 29 points and 12 assists, while the Wizards didn’t have much offensive coherency outside of Beal’s shooting. Washington did a better job of isolating Thomas in the post, but they didn’t punish him enough and nobody besides Beal could hit a shot. Morris started out hot but he couldn’t do a thing on Olynyk, and Wall turned back into a pumpkin as the going got tough. These numbers are reminiscent of Russell Westbrook’s horrifying fourth quarters against the Thunder, only with less scoring.
Washington’s bench also submitted their worst performance of the seven-game series, as Bojan Bogdanovic’s five points were the only ones scored by the backups. After looking frisky for the first few games of the series, Kelly Oubre inexplicably didn’t play tonight, while Ian Mahinmi looked like an oversized fan on the court, picking up four fouls, missing his only shot, and doing nothing to stop the Celtics big men. Scott Brooks might be a fine NBA coach, but you’d be advised to look away from his bench rotations.
Boston will now have the unenviable task of trying to stop the Cavaliers, who haven’t lost yet this postseason. They will be rested, while the Celtics just got through a hotly contested barnburner. Boston took just one of four games against Cleveland this regular season, and also the Cavs have LeBron James, so they’ll be heavy underdogs. Regardless of what comes next, they still continued D.C.’s unceasing sports futility, which they can revel in before jumping into the LeBron buzzsaw.