BOSTON – Isaiah Thomas made no secret about wanting to not just play well in Game 7, but deliver the kind of performance that not only led to victory but would also be remembered for quite some time.
The two-time All-Star found success on both fronts as Boston used a late third quarter surge to pull away for a 115-105 victory that eliminated the Washington Wizards and just as important, catapulted the Celtics into the Eastern Conference finals where they will face the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
- Celtics bench provides much-needed production in Game 7
- Isaiah Thomas: 'Kelly (Olynyk) was MVP tonight'
- Heinsohn: Olynyk comes back a different player after Game 7 performance
- Kevin Garnett fired up on Twitter for Celtics Game 7 win
And while Kelly Olynyk certainly stole the show with a playoff career-high 26 points, it was Thomas who found that always-tough balance of being a big-time scorer while also getting his teammates great looks.
He finished with a double-double of 29 points and 12 assists with just two turnovers.
The 12 assists were a playoff career-high for Thomas as part of his third career playoff double-double and first during the playoffs this year.
“He was terrific,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, referring to Thomas. “And the 12-to-2 assist-to-turnover, you know, is as powerful as the 29 points. I thought he made a lot of great plays; a lot of those shots that others made in the fourth quarter were off of his passes, or started with them putting two guys on Isaiah and man, is he a tough guy.”
And while the seven-game series with Washington certainly was a grueling marathon mentally, Thomas acknowledged it took quite a toll on his body as well.
“I’m hurting,” he said. “But it’s the playoffs so there are no excuses. I get my treatment every day and I’m ready to play.”
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 115-105 Game 7 win over Washington.
Easily Monday’s Game 7 performance by Olynyk was his best ever as a Celtic, not only because of the 26 points on 10-for-14 shooting but also because of his performance’s impact – it moved Boston on to the Conference finals.
As the series went on, Beal’s play seemed to get better and better. He led all scorers with 38 points on 12-for-22 shooting.
In Game 7, Thomas didn’t save his best for last – the fourth quarter. Instead, Thomas did most of his damage in the third which is when the Celtics began to take control of the game. He led Boston with 29 points, 12 of which came in the third quarter. Thomas also had a career playoff-high 12 assists.
There were big shots and lots of huge defensive plays made by Smart all game long. He finished with 13 points on 4-for-7 shooting along with grabbing six rebounds and dishing out four assists not to mention he found time to block two shots including one near the end of the first half that was a huge momentum-shifting play for the Celtics.
The numbers look a lot better than Wall’s impact in Game 7, particularly down the stretch. He finished with a double-double of 18 points and 11 assists along with seven rebounds. But in the fourth quarter, he was scoreless despite playing all but nine seconds of the quarter.
Otto Porter Jr.
After registering a big fat goose egg scoring in Game 6, Porter bounced back nicely with 20 points on 6-for-10 shooting to go with 10 rebounds and a blocked shot.
He has had better games in this series, but once again Horford came up with so many little plays that were big in terms of helping Boston emerge with the win. For the game, he had 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting with six rebounds and five assists.
Like Stevens, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks also shortened up his bench. But they weren’t anywhere close to being as effective as Boston’s second unit, as they tallied just five points while collectively missing four of their five shots total. Meanwhile, each of the three primary reserves for Boston – Kelly Olynyk (26 points), Marcus Smart (13 points) and Jaylen Brown (9 points) – each had more points scored than the entire Washington bench.