John Havlicek stealing the ball is one of the most iconic moments in Boston Celtics history. But on Monday night, the Basketball Hall of Famer was equaled by none other than Kelly Olynyk. (On paper, at least.)
How is this possible? Well, Olynyk tallied 26 points off the bench in Boston’s series-clinching Game 7 win over the Washington Wizards at TD Garden. According to Elias (via ESPN), that’s the most points by a Celtics reserve player in a postseason Game 7 since — you guessed it — Havlicek, who dropped 26 points off the bench against the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1965 Eastern Conference Finals.
Olynyk’s 26 points also were the most by any NBA reserve in a Game 7 since former Celtic Leandro Barbosa tallied 26 for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2006.
Havlicek’s last-second steal in that game against the Sixers helped send Boston to the NBA Finals, where it defeated the Lakers in five games. (Side note: It’s a testament to the Celtics’ incredible depth in the 1960s that Havlicek, the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, came off the bench in a do-or-die Game 7.)
Olynyk didn’t exactly recreate Hondo’s heroics, but he nonetheless played a crucial role in Boston’s win over the Wizards. The 26-year-old dropped 14 second-half points and made a pair of huge 3-pointers down the stretch, whipping the internet (and Washington fans) into a frenzy in the process.
And while the Celtics have bigger fish to fry in an Eastern Conference Finals matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Olynyk can lay claim to an individual effort on par with one of the greatest NBA players ever.
Who would’ve thought that 24 hours ago?
Thumbnail photo via Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports Images