By Brian Robb, CBS Boston
WALTHAM (CBS) — There’s no denying that injuries played a major factor in the Celtics’ first-round defeat to the Atlanta Hawks in six games. While much of the spotlight was placed on Avery Bradley’s hamstring injury and how Jae Crowder’s high ankle sprain limited his production, the health of an ineffective Kelly Olynyk also loomed large for Boston’s historically inept offense.READ MORE: 2 People Injured, 3 Parked Cars Hit In Cambridge Rollover Crash
The seven-footer averaged 10 points per game in the regular season, giving Brad Stevens his best floor spacing option with a career-high 40.5 percent mark from 3-point range. That player was a mere shell of himself in the postseason, as a sore right shoulder limited Olynyk’s productivity the entire Hawks series after taking a hit to the region in Game 1.
Despite playing in four games, Olynyk only managed to score a paltry two points in 32 minutes, hitting 1-of-9 shots from the field. He only grabbed four total rebounds in those games as well, as the ailment affected his overall game, not just his shooting.
“Yeah, I mean, it was definitely difficult to function,” Olynyk said last week in his exit interview. “Difficult to guard, rebound. It’s one of those things where you don’t have the same strength as you usually do, so when you’re trying to just shoot your shot normally, it’s not normal. So you really gotta focus on shooting the shot in a different way than you muscle memory is, and that’s what makes it tough. You can’t really make any excuses.”
The injury, which was originally suffered by Olynyk in the final game before the All-Star Break in February when DeAndre Jordan’s massive frame landed on it following a shot fake, limited the third-year forward for the entire final two months of the season. The 24-year-old was sidelined for 12 games before returning to action and March, but never got closer to 100 percent health before re-aggravating it in the playoffs.
“I felt like it was improving,” Olynyk said. “I had games where it would feel good and games where it wouldn’t. It’s just like it would get hit every game and kind of pinch and set you back kind of. So it was tough. I never really felt 100 percent the whole time. I never felt 80. It’s tough to deal with and tough going down that stretch of games, you want to be at your best when your best was needed. Unfortunately, we weren’t.”READ MORE: Vigil And March Held In Belmont For Henry Tapia, One Year After Being Killed In Road Rage Confrontation
With the season in the rear-view mirror, the possibility now remains in play for surgery on the right shoulder to help correct and heal the separation. Olynyk told reporters he was debating the possibility last week and Danny Ainge indicated on Wednesday that the big man is still weighing his options.
“Kelly is still deciding what to do with our medical staff and with the opinions that he’s received,” Ainge said Wednesday. “We should know within the next week or so of what that decision will be, but surgery is an option and it is being discussed. He’ll make that decision soon.”
“I’ll talk to a couple people, see what the best fit is out of them all,” Olynyk explained about any potential treatment. “Talk to each other, come together and make sure it’s a group decision with everyone in here on the team, make sure you’re making the right choice.”
With an eventful offseason on the horizon, a surgery for Olynyk that sidelines the Canadian for several months could have a major impact on Ainge’s wheeling and dealing this summer. It’s hard to get good value for a player that is on the mend and Olynyk’s improved shooting could prove to be an attractive trade chip for teams around the league this summer.
Ultimately, Olynyk’s decision and the lingering effects of it will prove to be just another tricky situation for Ainge to manage in what could be the busiest summer of his tenure in Boston.MORE NEWS: Man In 'Grave Condition' After South Shore Plaza Shooting In Braintree; No Arrests Made Yet
Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.