Kelly Olynyk, Jaylen Brown help Isaiah Thomas, Celtics vanquish Wizards in electric Game 7, move onto LeBron James

Kelly Olynyk, Jaylen Brown help Isaiah Thomas, Celtics vanquish Wizards in electric Game 7, move onto LeBron James

May 15, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) shoots the ball over Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) during the first half in game seven of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Thomas shoots the ball over Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal in a tense Game 7 at TD Garden Monday night. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Bring on LeBron.

In a series filled with dramatic swings in momentum and emotion, the Celtics outlasted the Wizards, 115-105, Monday night in a tense Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series at TD Garden. 

“It was ridiculous, I don’t think this building reached that level, since I’ve been here at least,” Brad Stevens said of the TD Garden crowd. 

“It’s good to be able to validate the progress but it’s about the next game,” Stevens said of reaching the Eastern finals in his fourth season. 

Kelly Olynyk put up a playoff career high of 26 points off the bench – including 14 in an amazing fourth-quarter display – while Isaiah Thomas was his usual electric self with 29 points as the Celtics can now get ready for Game 1 of the Eastern finals against the defending champion Cavaliers Wednesday night in Boston. 

“Kelly was the MVP tonight,” Thomas said. 

“They’re playing better than last year, at least when I watch them,” Stevens said of the Cavaliers. “I think they’re playing better than any of the four times we played them, including the last time when they smashed us.”

The heroics of Olynyk and Thomas offset a playoff career-best 38 points from Bradley Beal in a losing cause. 

The reason the Celtics advanced was simple: They had more in reserve. Specifically, their bench gave them a boost that the Wizards just didn’t enjoy. 

The group of Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk gave the Celtics the luxury to rest the likes of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Al Horford. 

When when Thomas and Horford were on the court in the fourth quarter, they put away Washington in dramatic fashion. Thomas and Horford dominated. John Wall looked like a superstar entirely out of gas. Wall couldn’t do it all and Washington’s awful bench was his and the team’s ultimate undoing. 

The Celtics’ bench outscored Washington’s reserves, 48-5. 

For the Wizards, their Eastern finals drought continues. They haven’t been to the NBA final four since 1979 when they beat the San Antonio Spurs to advance to the NBA finals against Seattle. The home team won all 11 meetings this season. 

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. The Celtics continued their dominance of the Wizards in Boston, beating Washington for the ninth straight time, dating to 2014. 

With an electric Game 7 atmosphere not seen in TD Garden for a Celtics game since beating the 76ers in 2012, the Celtics took advantage of the thunderous crowd. 

Washington missed five of their first six shots while the Celtics hit three of their first six, including a wing three that ignited the crowd and caused Scott Brooks to call his first time out. 

Otto Porter’s put back with seven minutes left ended Boston’s 7-0 run that helped the Celtics to a 10-2 lead. That started a run for the Wizards, which included Amir Johnson picking up his second foul. Another Achilles heel of the Celtics revealed itself in the first seven minutes, as four turnovers led to seven Wizards points. 

(For a complete boxscore, click here.) 

With the game tied at 17, rookie Jaylen Brown came off the bench to spark a 7-0, including a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws. The Wizards again responded with a run that featured Amir Johnson picking up his third foul with a minute left in the opening quarter. The Celtics picked up some momentum when Kelly Olynyk drove to the basket for a layup and was fouled with 5.7 seconds left. Olynyk made the free throw and the Celtics took a 27-23 lead into the second period. 

A key point stretch came with the Celtics leading 34-33. Isaiah Thomas converted a blow-by layup then Terry Rozier stole the in-bounds pass leading to a Jae Crowder layup, energizing the crowd. 

The rest of the first half was back-and-forth, with teams exchanging offensive spurts. The Wizards stayed in the game thanks to their transition game, outscoring Boston, 10-0, in the first half. Bradley Beal’s three with 2:20 left in the first half tied the game, 48-48. The Wizards closed the first half on a 10-5 run to take a 55-53 lead to the locker room. 

Foul trouble was a big story for the Celtics in the first half as Johnson, Kelly Olynyk and Marcus Smart all went to the half with three fouls. 

Bradley Beal hit the first shot of the third quarter to give the Wizards their biggest lead at 57-53. After the Wizards took a pair of 5-point leads, the Celtics made a run, capped off by a wide-open three from Al Horford with 7:44 left in the third, tied the game at 64.

Trailing 70-64, it was Horford to the rescue again. He drove on Marcin Gortat, converted the layup and free throw with 6:01 left to cut the deficit to three, 70-67.

Jaylen Brown slapped away a pass for Gortat and then showed his athleticism on the other end, running the floor and converting a beautiful reverse layup on a lob feed from Marcus Smart, igniting the crowd again and tying the game, 72-72, with 4:55 left in the third. 

After two Thomas free throws tied the game, Bradley Beal connected on a three, followed by a Thomas triple. Thomas connected on another three and then Marcus sent the Garden into pandemonium with a three to cap a 13-3 run, including nine straight to end the quarter, as the Celtics took an 86-79 lead into the fourth. 

Brown’s reverse dunk in the opening seconds of the fourth got the crowd going again, giving the Celtics a 87-79 lead. Kelly Olynyk’s two free throws put the Celtics up 10. After a bad turnover by John Wall, Isaiah Thomas drained a deep straightaway three with exactly 10 minutes left, putting the Celtics ahead, 94-81.

Just when it looked like the Wizards were going to get blown out of the building, Morris hit a baseline floater, followed by a Gortat layup and a Morris three to close within six, 94-88, with 8:49 left. Stevens called an immediate timeout and drew up a post play for Smart and a layup. 

After an Olynyk three, Beal hit a three and was fouled by Bradley to close the Wizards within four, 101-97 with six minutes left. 

The Celtics open the Eastern finals against the Cavaliers Wednesday night at TD Garden at 8:30. The Cavaliers, who won the season series, 3-1, will be playing on ten days rest since sweeping the Raptors in their Eastern semifinal series on May 7. 



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Source: GreenStreet Blog

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