BOSTON (CBS) — Not much went the Boston Celtics’ way on Wednesday night, as the Golden State Warriors absolutely trounced them at the TD Garden, but rookie Kelly Olynyk led the way in his return from a toe injury.
Olynyk, who missed two games with a sore big toe on his left foot, returned Wednesday night to lead the Celtics with 19 points in 27 minutes off the bench.
“It was good to get back into the flow and get some time on the court. Just get back into the rhythm and get some shots, back into the flow of the offense and the defense,” Olynyk said following the loss — Boston’s eighth in their last 10 games. “Sometimes it’s hard to get thrust back into it, but it was good for me. Unfortunately it wasn’t good for the team tonight.”
The Celtics trailed by upwards of 30 points for most of the evening, and head coach Brad Stevens admitted after the game that most of Olynyk’s damage came during garbage time. But the rookie was as aggressive as he was before the injury sidelined him, and didn’t show any signs of being gun-shy with his shot, which made Stevens a very happy coach.
“I hope it’s because we’ve told him to shoot every single second since he’s been here, and he just started listening,” Stevens joked. “He’s still learning, but he’s getting more aggressive.”
“I think he’s on the right progression. He’s on the right path,” added Stevens. “I think he’s rebounding a little bit better, as we talked about before the game. He’s shooting the three a little bit more freely now than he was at the start of our season.”
Olynyk scored his game-high 19 points on 6-for-12 shooting, going 3-for-6 from three-point range and a perfect 4-for-4 on the free throw line. He said after the game that the offensive side of the game is getting easier four-plus months into his NBA career.
“This far in, you can see where shots are coming,” he said. “You know when guys are stunting and when they’re full-rotating and that kind of stuff; who’s going to take you, who’s bluffing. So you can kind of find the seams, pick your spots. It’s a lot easier now.”
There are 21 games remaining for the Celtics, which should prove to be a very trying six weeks for the 21-win team. But it’s also a time for Olynyk to hone his skills and further develop, and he’s ready to take full advantage should he receive extending playing time down the stretch.
While the Celtics probably won’t win many games the rest of the way, Olynyk will still bring that competitive attitude to the court every night.
“Whether you’re playing in the NBA Finals in Game 7 or the preseason, every time you step on that floor you have to want to win. That’s what we’re doing every day.”
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