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Dublin: 8 °C Friday 6 December, 2019

A bench player was the Celtics' unlikely hero in Game 7 last night

Kelly Olynyk had the game of his life.

Olynyk: 26 points helped the Celtics into the Eastern Conference final.
Olynyk: 26 points helped the Celtics into the Eastern Conference final.
Image: Charles Krupa

KELLY OLYNYK SCORED 26 points from the bench as the Boston Celtics outmuscled the Washington Wizards 115-105 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

Olynyk produced a superb display of shooting from distance as Boston pulled clear of the Wizards in the late stages of the game to take the series 4-3 and set up a Conference final clash with Cleveland.

Isaiah Thomas topscored for the Celtics with 29 points and weighed in with 12 assists while Al Horford (15), Jae Crowder (14) and Marcus Smart (13) also made double figures.

But it was Olynyk’s remarkable display off the bench that proved decisive as the Celtics clinched their first Eastern Conference finals berth since 2012.

Olynyk had entered the game averaging only 8.3 points per game in the playoffs but delivered a career-high playoff performance when it mattered.

“A friend called me and said ‘Be at your best when your best is needed’ and my best was needed tonight,” Olynyk said after the win.

“Everybody gave it their best and it turned out for us tonight,” added the 26-year-old Canadian power forward.

Source: Pleasant Shows/YouTube

Boston, who had the top seed going into the postseason, now host NBA champions Cleveland, the second seeds, in Game 1 on Wednesday.

Cleveland — who have not dropped a game in the playoffs — got the better of Boston over the course of the regular season, winning 3-1 over four games.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said his team faced a daunting challenge, stating the Cavaliers have raised their game in the postseason.

“I think they’re playing better this year than they did last year,” Stevens said. “I’ve seen them play before. We played them four times. I think they’re better than any of the four times they played us.”

– © AFP 2017

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