BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Celtics are moving on to the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Celtics beat the Washington Wizards 115-105 in Game 7 on Monday night at TD Garden to advance to the conference finals for the first time since 2012.
Isaiah Thomas led the way with 29 points, but it was Boston’s bench that made a gigantic difference with 48 points. Kelly Olynyk led the C’s reserves with 26 points off 10-for-14 shooting, scoring 14 of those points in the fourth quarter alone. Marcus Smart scored 13 points, had six rebounds and dished out four assists in 30 energetic minutes, which included a big block on Otto Porter Jr. just before the half. Smart drained a pair clutch threes in the third quarter to get Boston rolling.
“It was an unbelievable moment for us. It feels great. You dream of winning a Game 7, in the Garden,” Thomas said after the win. “The fans were amazing. We didn’t give up and Kelly was our MVP tonight. He did it all; three pointers, taking it to the hole. He’s a big reason we won that game.”
“Kelly gave us that enormous lift of scoring in the fourth quarter,” C’s head coach Brad Stevens said after the win. “I thought Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart were really good. Marcus played has hard as he possibly could and he was exhausted. That’s a good feeling when you win.”
Washington took a 55-53 lead into the half and looked poised to take over out of the break, but the Celtics closed the third quarter on a 13-3 run that included a 9-0 burst to take an 85-79 lead into the final frame. They kept going, turning that run into 22-5 to open the fourth quarter and extend their lead to 13.
The Wizards got within four points as Bradley Beal single handily kept them in it with 38 points, but a layup by Olynyk and a one-footer by Thomas (off an Olynyk offensive board) gave Boston a little breathing room. Olynyk hit a jumper and nailed a three to put Boston back up by 10 with 3:26 to play, and they never looked back.
Boston will now take on LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers for a trip to the NBA Finals. Game 1 is set for Wednesday night at the TD Garden.
“We know it’s going to be tough, but at this point anything can happen,” Thomas said of the upcoming challenge against the Cavaliers. “They didn’t give us a chance in this series or when we were down 2-0 to Chicago. We just keep going; we don’t care what other people say.”