July 28, 2017

Celtics seeking validation against Cavaliers in East finals

20 May 2017, 02:07 | Pamela Mathis

Getty Images

Getty Images

Kelly Olynyk scored a career playoff high of 26 points and was 10×14 from the field to make himself the difference in Boston's 115-105 win over Washington in Game 7 in the East on Monday.

The Washington Wizards and Boston Celtics met in a deciding Game 7 in their NBA Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series at TD Garden in Boston on Monday, May 15, 2017 (5/15/17).

Olynyk, who entered the game averaging 8.3 points per game in the playoffs, exploded for 14 of his career playoff-high 26 points in the first 8:34 of the fourth quarter, joining Isaiah Thomas in the offensive charge that gave Boston the 4-3 series win.

The Celtics advance to the Eastern finals for the first time since 2012, when they also faced LeBron James and fell in a seven-game thriller to the Miami Heat. After saving the Wizards' season in Game 6 with his heroic 3-pointer, Wall couldn't buy a bucket in the second half, going 0-for-11 over the final 19 minutes. Thomas scored nine points on three triples during a crucial 18-2 run over the end of the third quarter into the beginning of the fourth quarter.

Boston will now host the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers for the Eastern Conference finals beginning on Wednesday. If this series has no other lasting legacy, it has cemented Celtics/Wizards as one of the major rivalries in the league and has ensured that, for the foreseeable future, their regular season meetings will be "must watch" events. The team got several great performances from their starters.

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Led by Olynyk, the Celtics got a huge lift from their bench, outscoring their Wizards counterparts 48-5. All tipoffs are now scheduled for 8:30 p.m. and all games will air on TNT.

Si Woo Kim of South Korea became the youngest victor of The Players Championship with a game and nerves well beyond his 21 years. Game 7 is an entirely different kettle of fish, however. The Celtics used efficient fourth quarter offense to take down the Wizards in what was an exciting game to conclude an intense series. Both teams played hard, we outlasted them there.

The Wizards played here six times this season and lost all of them. They're just using the college system as a stepping stone to the National Basketball Association and that's really unfortunate. We played them four times.

While Boston's Olynyk, Smart, rookie Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier all made significant contributions in Game 7, Washington's cast of Mahinmi, midseason acquisition Brandon Jennings and Jason Smith put up the goose egg, and Kelly Oubre Jr. saw the floor for just six seconds after being a factor earlier in the series. Our goal was to get to the Eastern Conference finals, and we were one game short.

"I don't care how well I played", Beal said afterward. "So even though you have more people, sometimes less work gets done". We've played fairly well in the playoffs ... and we're up 23 points in the third quarter against Golden State, and Kawhi goes down like that.

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