Olynyk takes pressure off Horford, steals the show with season-high 26 points

Olynyk takes pressure off Horford, steals the show with season-high 26 points

ATLANTA – The build-up to Friday’s game was squarely centered around Al Horford returning to the Atlanta for the first time since he became a Boston Celtic.

But in the actually game, it was another Celtics’ big man – Kelly Olynyk – who stole the show.

And while Isaiah Thomas’ late-game heroics catapulted Boston to a 103-101 win over the Hawks, Olynyk’s play was instrumental in the Celtics being in position to put the pesky Atlanta team away.

The 7-footer came off Boston’s bench to score a season-high 26 points, 18 of which came in the first half.

“He (Olynyk) was really good,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.  “He was really good.”

And while Olynyk’s 3-point shooting is certainly the weapon of choice that we’re used to seeing him hurt teams with, against the Hawks the 7-foot Olynyk actually looked and played like … a 7-footer.

He shot 9-for-11 from the field, with five of his made baskets being lay-ups courtesy of good ball movement and his willingness to spend more time around and finish, sometimes in traffic which is rare.

Olynyk also grabbed eight rebounds, among them a pair of offensive boards that led to points that in hindsight, were huge for the Celtics (25-15).

It was the kind of performance that we’ve seen Olynyk deliver before, only to struggle soon after.

Boston doesn’t need him to score 26 points a night, but they could use more of the inside-outside game he displayed which was problematic for the Hawks all game.

But more than anything else, Olynyk found himself wide open and to the Celtics’ credit, they managed to find him for easy scores.

“I wouldn’t say they were blatantly leaving me,” Olynyk said. “I think they were trying to help on other guys, help when (Thomas) drives. Other games, when people don’t help, he has 52 (points). So you have to do something. It was good that we could step up and make a few shots to take the pressure off of him.”

And in doing so, alleviate some of the pressure Al Horford must have been feeling as he played as a visitor for the first time at Philips Arena.

“Kelly had a great night,” Horford said. “I'm just very proud of the group. I think they made a bigger deal of it than I did. I was just ready to play and they really wanted to win this game and I just appreciate their effort and everything they did.”

Rozier gets a big test tonight against Thunder

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Rozier gets a big test tonight against Thunder

BOSTON -- Terry Rozier has stepped up his game this season. There’s no disputing that point. 
And the Celtics have rewarded him with increased playing time, which he has proven he deserves. 
While he has made the most of his opportunity with an increased role due to injuries, at some point Rozier’s minutes should go back to being 20 or so per game. 
It’s amazing how far Rozier has come in such a short period of time, from a first-round pick many questioned as being a reach on Boston’s part, to an integral part of the team’s quest towards Banner 18.
And it is games like tonight’s against the Oklahoma City Thunder that will put the experience gained by Rozier as a major contributor, to the ultimate test when he faces off against reigning league MVP Russell Westbrook.
No one expects Rozier to put up Westbrook-like numbers . . . but would anyone be shocked if he did?
Remember, Rozier’s first NBA start came this season and he racked up his first career triple-double. The next game out, he dropped a career-high 31 points. 
But as we get deeper into the season, he’s no longer viewed as a backup or a role player, They see him as a player that has to be accounted for, regardless of whether he’s starting or coming off the bench. 
“There’s a lot of teams in this league you could easily see him starting for,” a league executive told NBC Sports Boston via text. “He’s not Kyrie [Irving] obviously, and he’s a different kind of player than Marcus [Smart], but he can play. If teams didn’t know it before, they know it now.”
Rozier may not be a secret anymore, but here are five under-the-radar story lines to keep an eye on tonight as the Celtics go for the season sweep against the Oklahoma City Thunder. 


If the Celts expect to win tonight, they better get it done in four quarters of play. Because overtime has been a good time for the Thunder. They come into tonight’s game with a 3-0 record in overtime this season. They are one of eight teams with an unblemished overtime record, and no other team in the league this season has as more wins (3) in overtime without a single defeat. 


The NBA hit Marcus Morris up for $15,000 following “verbal abuse of a game official” at the end of Boston’s 108-89 loss at New Orleans.  Morris will be lighter in the wallet, obviously. But it also might get him even more fired up tonight which could lead to him lighting up the Thunder. 


Scoring around the basket has not been a strength of the Celtics, but with key players on the perimeter hurt, Boston has to generate points in other ways. Doing so against the Thunder, a team that has allowed 43.1 points in the paint per game --10th-fewest allowed in the league this season -- will be a challenge.


At some point tonight, Boston will be challenged to get back on defense and not allow Russell Westbrook to score on the break. The Celtics have been one of the league’s better transition defense teams in allowing 10.2 fast-break points, which is the fourth-fewest allowed per game this season. Meanwhile, the Thunder average 14.1 fast-break points, which ranks third in the league. 


The Celtic players talk all the time about how great the TD Garden crowd can be. But at the end of games lately, they haven’t let them much to cheer about. The C's come into tonight’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder with losses in five of their last seven home games with the lone wins coming over Memphis and Charlotte – two teams currently out of playoff seeding. Boston’s last home win over a team that’s currently in the top 8 was a 97-96 win over Portland on Feb. 4, a game in which Al Horford hit a game-winning, fadeaway jumper as time expired.


Report: Kyrie Irving may need screws removed from knee

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Report: Kyrie Irving may need screws removed from knee

BOSTON — Kyrie Irving is reportedly going to get a second opinion on his sore left knee which may result in him having season-ending surgery.

98.5 The Sports Hub’s Tony Massarotti reported on Tuesday that Irving will get a second opinion as early as Wednesday.

Irving suffered a fractured left knee cap during the 2015 NBA Finals.

He underwent surgery that sidelined him for the rest of the playoffs.

The surgical procedure performed on his knee involved the insertion of screws to aid the stabilization of the  kneecap.

The Celtics have already been ravaged by injuries this season. They lost Gordon Hayward just five minutes into the season due to a left ankle injury. Daniel Theis is out for the season with a torn meniscus injury to his left knee. Marcus Smart recently had right thumb surgery that will keep him out for the rest of the regular season, with there being a chance he will return at some point for the playoffs. And Jaylen Brown suffered a concussion that has him sidelined, as well.