Celtics seeking validation against Cavaliers in East finals

Celtics seeking validation against Cavaliers in East finals

Celtics seeking validation against Cavaliers in East finals

BOSTON-Canadian Kelly Olynyk scored a career-playoff high 26 points and the Boston Celtics used a big fourth quarter to outlast the Washington Wizards 115-105 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Monday night. Before this, Olynyk's playoff career-high was just 14 points - the same amount he scored in the fourth quarter alone.

Meanwhile, if the Celtics take the series, it will be Boston's first time reaching the NBA Finals since 2010.

Wall finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds, but shot just 8-for-23 from the field and 1-for-8 from the 3-point line.

But after coming back into the game at the 2:28 mark of the third quarter, Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas hit two free throws and a pair of 3-point shots as Boston closed the quarter with an 18-7 run to take an 85-79 lead into the fourth. He was right, and though he played extremely well, Olynyk stole the show and put on the legendary performance. The Cavs ended the regular season with four straight losses to allow Boston to grab the No.1 seed. The only aging piece of the team's core is Horford, Thomas should continue his rise into the game's elite players, Jaylen Brown is a great talent and the team should get another great draft pick courtesy of the league's worst Brooklyn Nets.

Olynyk's heroics helped the Boston bench outscore the Washington reserves 48-5.

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And just because there wasn't enough controversy heading into Game 7, it came out that the Celtics were robbed of 1.8 seconds during their final, futile possession of Game 6. The Wizards had all of the momentum, Bradley Beal was on his way to a 38-point night, and it looked like the C's were on their way to a second-round playoff exit. "I think they're playing better this year than they did last year". Olynyk was a flawless 8-for-8 on field goal attempts inside the arc in Game 7 and a ideal 6-for-6 on contested field goal attempts. After a series in which he was the best player on the court, Wall's speed went from warp to mortal.

Game 7 was always going to come down to the Washington Wizards' superstars. Throughout the playoffs, their ability to convert those perimeter jumpers has defined their success, and they were over 40 percent in their series against the Wizards.

Thomas had 9 points in that stretch for Boston.

Isaiah Thomas said he didn't feel any pressure entering the first Game 7 of his career Monday night. We played them four times. But Bradley Beal got loose for whatever he wanted on the perimeter, and both teams played too nervously to truly break away until the start of the third quarter. John Wall and Co. were never able to get over the hump as the Celtics kept them at an arm's length the rest of the way, hitting timely baskets again and again.

You can tie a lot of Wall's struggles tonight back to the team's inability to give him an adequate backup to spell him most of the season. Kids aren't going to college to get an education and play ball.

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