BOSTON — In a do-or-die Game 7 in their Eastern Conference semifinal series Monday night, the Boston Celtics fended off the Washington Wizards 115-105.
Isaiah Thomas delivered a huge performance for the Celtics. The star point guard paced the C’s with 29 points and dished out 12 assists.
Kelly Olynyk arguably played the best game of his Celtics career. The big man dazzled with 26 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists. Al Horford also had a strong night with 15 points, six rebounds and five assists.
The Wizards got a career night out of Bradley Beal. The Washington guard posted a game-high 38 points, while John Wall added 18 points to go along with 11 assists and seven rebounds. But the strong guard play wasn’t enough to earn the victory.
With the 4-3 series win, the Celtics advance to the Eastern Conference finals to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Here’s how it all went down.
PG: Isaiah Thomas
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Jae Crowder
PF: Amir Johnson
C: Al Horford
The Celtics did a great job of spreading the ball around to start the game, and held a 27-23 lead after one quarter. Boston had five players — Thomas, Horford, Bradley, Olynyk and Jaylen Brown — score five points in the opening 12 minutes. The C’s also assisted on seven of their nine shots made.
Washington recovered after a slow start. The Wizards opened with a 1-for-7 shooting performance and gave the Celtics open looks on the defensive end. The Wizards’ offense began to heat up, though, and narrowed the first-quarter deficit. Markieff Morris led all scorers with seven points in the opening frame, while Wall and Beal each contributed five.
The 3-pointer wasn’t working for either team early on. The Wizards only converted on one of five 3-point attempts, while the Celtics shot 3-for-9 from beyond the arc.
STOP AND GO
The first half lacked rhythm and flow, thanks in large part to the officiating. The two teams combined for 24 first-half fouls, with Boston committing 14 of them. But after a back-and-forth second quarter, the Wizards held a slight 55-53 advantage heading into the break.
Aside from fouls, the Celtics especially were troubled in the rebounding department, as the Wizards outrebound the C’s 23-14 through two quarters. In fact, none of Boston’s 14 boards came on the offensive glass, which eliminated second-chance opportunities. Washington’s dominance allowed its offense to jump out in transition with 10 fast-break points in the first half.
Olynyk continued to have a strong performance off the bench for the Celtics. The forward led the team with seven second-quarter points. Olynyk and Thomas paced Boston with 12 points apiece, while Crowder wasn’t too far behind with eight. Beal led all scorers with 14 points at the break.
The Celtics trailed by 79-76 with two minutes remaining in the third quarter, but a trio of 3-pointers gave Boston all the momentum heading into the final frame. Thomas started it off with a triple to even the score, and the star guard responded with another 3-pointer on the ensuing possession. And with 22 seconds remaining in the frame, Marcus Smart converted from beyond the arc to give Boston an 85-79 lead heading into the final quarter.
It was all about the guards in the third frame, as Beal and Thomas led their respective teams with 12 points each. Horford also had a solid third quarter with eight points, two rebounds and two assists.
THE KELLY SHOW
Boston hadn’t been receiving much help from its starters outside off Thomas, but Olynyk picked up the slack and then some in the fourth quarter. The big man erupted for 14 points in the fourth quarter and gave the Celtics a much-needed lift.
The C’s were efficient from the field when it mattered most, converting on 12 of 21 shots in the fourth quarter. Boston’s well-balanced offense and tenacious defense down the stretch ultimately was too much for the Wizards to handle, as the Celtics were in total control in the fourth quarter en route to victory.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Jaylen with the acrobatics.
The Celtics and Cavaliers will battle in Game 1 on Wednesday night. Tip-off from TD Garden is set for 8:30 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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