Game 22 of 82 (26.7%), Monday, December 15, 730 EST
Celtics @ Sixers
Start with this: a Kelly Olynyk complication that he may show to his grandchildren one day in 2064.
The Celtics needed a feel-good game like this one. After a slumbering start, in which the extremely-long and offensively-inept Sixers took an 11-2 lead, Tyler Zeller picked up his 2nd foul. In came the 6th man of the future, Kelly Olynyk. A glance through Olynyk’s game log and you’ll realize the man is streaky. When he finds the rhythm on his shot, he can be an offensive force. Stevens and his assistants are hoping Olynyk becomes an instant-offense 6th man as he develops his defensive game. The overzealous Dirk Nowitzki-talk that was borne out of Utopian summer league play has been put to rest. But if he puts together a few more 30-point games, the rumble will probably start up again. Ryan Anderson-chatter might be more accurate. If anything, Olynyk is more athletic and a better passer than Anderson, whose shooting is unparalleled by all those not named Dirk whose height approaches 7-feet.
As a team, the Celtics were in desperate need of a boost. Bench spark Marcus Thornton is out with a calf tear that could sideline him for the next month. The enthusiasm of Marcus Smart will help, but he’s battling a tweaked Achilles. The bench is thin. Players like Olynyk, Bass and the spry Phil Pressey will have to carry more weight (at least until Bass is likely traded). Olynyk carried all the necessary weight by himself on Monday. Olynyk had 26 points in only 24 minutes by the end of the third. He finished with a career-high 30 points on 17 shots, adding 9 rebounds and 3 steals.
Let’s just enjoy this one for what it was. A blow-out win against the league’s worst team. After clanging their first nine attempts, the Celtics made 32 of their next 55 (58.2%) through the third quarter. As the horn sounded, an 88-64 lead in hand, even these Celtics knew they’d secured a victory. The Sixers offense has trouble scoring 25 points in any one quarter, so the 24-point cushion was actually secure. Everyone got some minutes in the 4th, except for Rondo and Green. As the Celtics are in the midst of a busy stretch of games (8 games in the last 14 days), it helps to have an occasional win in the bag early.
Wednesday, Magic @ Celtics
Look forward to the talented young Magic and their aggressive young backcourt. Shame that Smart is hurt, because it’d be fun to see him matched up with fellow defensive guru Elfrid Payton.
Friday, Wolves @ Celtics
No Rubio. No Kevin Martin. No Peckovic. Still too many wings and no center. Shabazz Mohammed is on a roll lately.
I actually get to see these two in person, with old friends. Let’s hope the malaise that lingered briefly has passed for good.