BOSTON — Kelly Olynyk looked like a man who had just spent seven games in the paint with Bill Laimbeer.
The Celtics center walked through the locker room three times, from the trainer’s room, to and from the bathroom and then to his locker. The third time, he removed the ice pack he had pressed to his face to reveal a golf ball-sized shiner above his left eye — the aftereffects of an elbow he took from teammate Shavlik Randolph during a pregame 1-on-1 session.
This was around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday — an hour before the Celtics were set to host the Indiana Pacers in a game loaded with playoff implications.
“I gave him no hope of playing,” center Tyler Zeller said. “He looked like he had just gotten out of a boxing fight.”
That sentiment was shared by Randolph, who after showing off the lump Olynyk’s dome left on his forearm, said the big man resembled Rocky Balboa, “from right before Rocky told Mickey to cut him.”
Olynyk, though, was determined to play, despite the fact that seemingly everyone he spoke to — including head coach Brad Stevens — believed that was a pipe dream.
?When I first (suffered the injury), I went in there, and they told me that I wouldn?t be playing,” Olynyk said. “Then, I went to the eye doctor, and they wanted to dilate my eye. They said your vision goes blurry, and I told them not to, because I wanted to play. They said, ?Well, you probably won?t be playing.’ Then, the girl sewed it up and stuff, and I came back and wanted to give it a try.”
Olynyk did more than try — he excelled. After testing out his vision during a shooting session with point guard Phil Pressey, Olynyk declared himself good to go. He checked in for the first time with 1:56 to play in the first quarter and never looked back (not that he could have if he wanted to).
By the time the dust settled, Olynyk had scored 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting and accounted for half of his team’s six made 3-pointers, and the Celtics had buried the Pacers 100-87.
“I was impressed with his ability to play and go out and produce like he did,” said Zeller, who tied Olynyk for the team high with 19 points of his own. “He couldn’t have been able to see easily out of that eye, but he did a great job of playing through it.”
Olynyk’s vision certainly was impaired — he said he “could see out of the bottom third, maybe” and also was nursing a busted-up lip after taking multiple smacks to the face over the past three games — but sit out? And endure the jabs Boston Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton, a friend and fellow Torontonian, would throw his way? No chance.
?Yeah (I considered it), but I remember two days ago I was talking to Dougie Hamilton,” Olynyk said. “I was texting Dougie Hamilton, and he told me that he broke his ribs and he was trying to come back before the playoffs. And I was like, ?Man, I can?t sit out. He?s going to rip me.? ? All those hockey guys would kill me, so I had to do it.?
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@SportsCenter