BOSTON – In the first half of Wednesday’s game, the Boston Celtics put together a video tribute for Kelly Olynyk that highlighted the significant contributions he made in the New England community when he played for the Celtics.
It was a warm, fuzzy moment for all involved.
And then ... he just murdered the Celtics on the floor in every way imaginable.
The happy-go-lucky, lovin’-the-kids Olynyk on the jumbotron was replaced by an on-the-floor assassin who had his best scoring game in the NBA as the Miami Heat defeated the Celtics 90-89.
Olynyk led all Miami players with a career-high 32 points on an insanely efficient 12-for-15 shooting.
Making matters worse for the Celtics (26-8), one of his mentors a year ago, Al Horford, fouled out early in the fourth when he reached in on – who else? - Olynyk.
“He did what he’s best at,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “You know, when he can play off of the high post and fake handoffs and you keep biting on all those fakes like we did all night, you let him drove to his left hand – which he’s great at – and then you give him too much of a cushion to get shots, I mean after he gets to the rim, gets foul shots, and everything else he feels really good, and he played a great game.”
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra acknowledged getting Olynyk and another ex-Celtic Jordan Mickey, off to a good start tonight was one of the key objectives for Miami (16-15).
“We knew how important it was for KO (Kelly Olynyk) and J. Mick (Jordan Mickey),” Spoelstra said. “Both of these guys wanted to play well here and come out here with a win and they both played great minutes.”
Mickey came off the Heat bench and had eight points and eight rebounds with two assists.
“It felt great to come in here and steal a win,” said Mickey, a second-round pick of the Celtics in 2015.
Olynyk made no secret about being a bit more fired up than usual playing in the TD Garden as an opponent for the first time.
And with the Celtics rallying late in the game, Olynyk could sense the crowd was getting more into the action, just how it was when he donned the Green and White.
“It definitely felt like a playoff game,” Olynyk said. “Playoff atmosphere for sure. That’s the way Boston’s crowd, fans are. I mean, they’re crazy about it. That was an emotional night. A fun night. I’m glad we came out of it with a win.”
While some may have been surprised at how dominant Olynyk was on Wednesday, his teammates like Marcus Smart weren’t.
“By this point, we shouldn’t be surprised,” Smart said. “That’s just the competitive nature in every last one of us. You leave a team, you want to prove to that team that for whatever reason, that you should still be there. That’s everybody.
Smart added, “I don’t know why we’re surprised by it. Kelly (Olynyk) kicked our ass!”