Big man leads Celtics to big win in series decider

Game one of that series tips off on Thursday at 10.30am (AEST).

Boston got 15 points, six rebounds and five assists from Al Horford. From there, however, it was all Celtics, as they closed the third on a 13-3 run, capped off by a Marcus Smart triple that put them up 85-79 going into the final 12 minutes. The five-foot-nine guard is averaging 25.1 points and six assists a game in the playoffs that started a day after his younger sister died in a vehicle accident.

The other guy turned out to be Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk, who enjoyed a career quarter in the fourth.

"If Kelly doesn't go nuts and they throw in a couple more threes, we're not talking about the next step", the Celtics coach said after Kelly Olynyk's huge game off the bench led Boston into the Eastern Conference finals with a 115-105 Game 7 victory over the Washington Wizards on Monday night.

"He looked exhausted", said Marcus Smart, one of Boston's relentless perimeter defenders who took his turn on Wall throughout the series. "When it left his hand I knew it was going to be good". "And we came out on top". That was evident not only in the three-pointer he made with 3.5 seconds left in Game 6 to beat the Celtics, but also in the way he did it. "He's the main guy, and we had to stop him", Gortat said. "He made 3-pointers, he took it to the hole, he played really tough, and he's a big reason why we won tonight". I think we did a great job for 18 minutes, and then they started making shots.

Celtics advances to the Eastern Conference finals, where it will host the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 on Wednesday.

The Celtics, which own the Brooklyn Nets' first-round pick this year and next, have an opportunity to add a franchise player or two very soon. We've got to get ready for the defending champs.

For Thomas it serves as the ultimate validation for a team that many felt was unworthy of the conference's top seed. "There are no excuses", Thomas said.

"I'm more disappointed we lost more than anything", Beal said, sitting next to Wall on the podium after the game.

Bradley Beal scored a game-high 38 points for the Wizards, including 24 in the second half.

"I wasn't a great shooter coming in", Wall said. "I don't care if I played bad. The only thing that matters is getting a win".

Two 40-point showings stood out, and his three-point shot showed life besides in his final game of the season. Otto Porter scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and Markieff Morris contributed 18 points and nine rebounds.

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas ends up on his back after a collision during the first quarter.

But Washington quickly responded, scoring seven straight in just 51 seconds to get back within six.

Cavaliers general manager David Griffin deserves a ton of credit for how he's augmented what was an extremely top-heavy Cleveland team's bench throughout this season.

Olynyk isn't going to score 14 in the fourth quarter again - perhaps in his career.

By himself, reserve Olynyk also outscored Washington's bench 26-5. But in the fourth quarter, he was scoreless despite playing all but nine seconds of the quarter.

"It's tough. We came out here Game 7 and gave everything we had. So it's a not a satisfied season to me". He has averaged 25.1 points and 6 assists a game during the playoffs. Still have not reached a conference final since 1979.

  • Zachary Reyes