Celtics
Celtics big Kelly Olynyk had a career night in what was one of the biggest games of his life (Brian Babineau/Getty Images)

Game 7. Two words that have a lot of connotation attached to them in the sports world. After the Washington Wizards took Game 6 and forced a Game 7 finale at TD Garden, the Boston Celtics responded. In what was a hard-fought Game 7, the Celtics came out on top 115-105 and are now set to square off against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Wizards came out of the game jittery which shouldn’t come as a surprise due to their lack of Game 7 experience and the rabid Boston crowd. The Celtics opened up with an early 10-2 edge due to a shaky Washington offense. Much of the scoring early on for the Celtics was well spread out, allowing Isaiah Thomas to play more of a facilitating role.

Once the Wizards locked in, they exchanged blows with Boston for the remainder of the period. The early aggressiveness of Markieff Morris was a good sign for a Washington team that often struggles to find contributions outside of John Wall and Bradley Beal.

After the first quarter concluded with a 27-23 edge for the Celtics, things got even tighter in the second quarter. The Wizards were able to hang due to the increased intensity of John Wall who has been making things happen for them all postseason long.

Wall’s backcourt mate Bradley Beal was also able to find his footing in the second, en route to a huge 38-point outing. Despite this, the energy boost Boston got from their home fans couldn’t be quantified and that was largely their driving force in a first half in which no Celtic produced numbers that jumped out at you.

Before the conclusion of the half, we saw the unlikely hero of the game for the Celtics start to make some noise as bench big Kelly Olynyk put up 12 points in the first half and finished with an absurd 26 points that put the final nail in the Wizards coffin.

The second half saw both squads continue to battle back and forth. No team could gain a substantial edge and it would seem that it would go right down to the wire. This was until Wizards coach Scott Brooks started rotating in his bench, a unit that put up 5 measly points tonight, all courtesy of Bojan Bogdanovic. With a red-hot Olynyk coming off the Celtics bench compared to the lethargy shown from Washington’s reserves, Boston was able to finish the third quarter with a 13-3 run and take an 85-79 lead into the final quarter of the series.

The fourth quarter started again with an energized Boston team and more horrid defensive effort from the Wizards. The momentum was all in Boston’s favor as they ripped the game open and grabbed a commanding 14-point lead. While Thomas did his usual fourth quarter damage, it was once again Olynyk serving as the thorn in Washington’s side all night long.

While the Wizards did go on a mini 7-0 run to make things interesting, Thomas and Olynyk were able to put Washington away down the stretch and take the series with an 115-105 Game 7 victory.

The Celtics won this game thanks to the contributions they got from unexpected bench players Washington didn’t account for such as Olynyk, Marcus Smart and even rookie Jaylen Brown. While you’ll live with the 29 points and 12 assists you conceded to Isaiah Thomas, the 26 from Olynyk and 13 from Smart are flat out unacceptable in a game of this magnitude.

For Washington, this game exposed the multiple issues they need to address this coming offseason. The decisions Brooks made with the rotations throughout tonight’s contest were questionable, to say the least. While the 20-10 double-double from Otto Porter and 18 points from Morris provided Wall and Beal with much-needed support, the bench added close to nothing not only tonight but on too many occasions throughout the campaign. Starting center Marcin Gortat looked lost most of the night which made the Wizards lack of serviceable, reserve bigs a glaring issue.

Secondly, though John Wall has played at an MVP-level for much of the postseason his disappearing act down the stretch of this one was hard to ignore. After hitting 8 of his first 13 shot attempts, Wall missed his next 10, finishing with 18 points and 11 assists.

This game marks the conclusion of what was a hopeful season for the Wizards, and the beginning of a new opportunity for the Celtics who are scheduled to play Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday at 8:30 PM.

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