Kelly Olynyk came off the bench to score 26 points, hitting 14 of them in an exciting fourth quarter as the Boston Celtics defeated the Washington Wizards 115-105. They secured a 4-3 series win, and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals to face the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown also contributed points off the bench for the Celtics, with Smart delivering 13 points, six rebounds and four assists, while Brown supplied nine points and three rebounds in 20 minutes. The only player that contributed off the Wizards bench was Bojan Bogdanovic, who scored five points in 16 minutes of action.

But the day belonged to Olynyk and the Celtics starting troika of Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford and Jae Crowder, who delivered 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Thomas scored 29 points and passed for 12 assists. His points haul includes a 26-foot 3-point shot that capped a 13-3 Celtics run to start the fourth quarter, and gave them the biggest lead of the game. Horford scored 15 in 20 minutes, and his +/- indicator showed that the Celtics outscored the Wizards by 14 points while he was on court.

Both teams tried to get a jump on the other by seeking to sink the 3-ball early. They combined for 4-of-10 from range in the first quarter, with the Celtics the better of the two, shooting 50 percent (3-of-6) on the way to taking a four-point lead (27-23) into the second quarter.

Bradley Beal, who scored 33 points in Game 6 to lead the Wizards, topped that performance as he poured in 38 points to pace his team, on a night John Wall went cold. Wall had carried the Wizards team on his back most of this series, especially in Game 2 where he scored 40 points. On Monday night Wall shot just 8-of-23, including 1-of-8 from range. He also went to the line just twice, making one shot. He finished with 18 points.

The other Washington starters, apart from Wall and Beal, did their part in the losing effort. All through the series, they contributed more points than the back-court duo only once, when their 42-point effort in Game 3 trumped the 35 points of the Wall/Beal combination. But in the crucial Game 7, Markieff Morris and Otto Porter scored 38 points, the same as Beal; but Porter added 10 rebounds, while Martin Gortat had six points and 11 rebounds. However, their combined +/- indicator showed that when all three were on the floor, the Wizards outscored the Celtics by 12 points; Beal and Wall combined for minus-22 points when active.

Celtics were more aggressive on the boards as their 43-31 advantage showed, and while the Wizards were sloppier with the ball committing 15 turnovers, the hosts limited their turnovers to just eight, the first time in the series either of the teams recorded a single digit in that category.

The Eastern Conference Finals now take center stage with a best-of-seven game series against the defending champions the Cleveland Cavaliers the prize for the Celtics. There’ll be no time to rest as the series begins on Wednesday night.

By Akinbode Oguntuyi


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