Boston Celtics big man Kelly Olynyk picked a very opportune time to have the best game of his professional career last night, scoring 26 points (14 of which occurred in the fourth quarter. The savior of the Celtics’ season, Olynyk quickly shed his reputation as nothing more than a hack man off of the bench when scoring 12 points in under four minutes in the fourth to help the Celtics pull away from the Washington Wizards.
A seven-footer who can stretch the floor, Olynyk served as a secret weapon of sorts for the Celtics last night, consistently draining shot after shot over helpless Washington bigs. Combining that shooting touch with his trademark physical defense, Olynyk could be the perfect candidate for helping Boston upset the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Yes, even though, the Celtics are the higher-seeded team, the Cavs are the undisputed favorites of the ECF, looking to use the rest they received after making quick work of the Toronto Raptors in the second round to defeat the Celtics and advance to their third consecutive NBA Finals. However, Olynyk’s ascension, if not just a one-game fluke, could pose some serious problems for the Cavs.
Cleveland has struggled in the past against teams with athletics fours who play tenacious defense. For example, Raptors backup power forward Bismack Biyombo basically earned himself a hefty contract this past offseason solely due to his surprisingly good play against the Cavs in last year’s ECF. Olynyk could be this year’s Biyombo, except, unlike Bismack, Kelly is a versatile offensive threat.
Olynyk has displayed his ability to create problems for Kevin Love in the past, and Cavs center Tristan Thompson is certainly not the best when it comes to defending around the perimeter, so Olynyk could create scoring opportunities for the Celtics that may give them an edge.
In addition, the Cavs have been very top-heavy these playoffs, meaning that the Big Three of Love, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving have done the bulk of the scoring. So if Olynyk is able to limit Love substantially enough, the Cavs might be impotent down low on the offensive end.
Kelly Olynyk is still a diamond in the rough on the court, but his Game 7 display proved that he’s capable of impacting a game to a high degree. Offering a more diverse set of skills than fellow Celtics big men Al Horford and Amir Johnson, Olynyk could end up being the ultimate X factor for Boston in the coming weeks, which could result in an epic playoff upset.