The season is over, but it was a pretty good one for the Boston Celtics.
Boston made the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since the 2011-12 season and they were also the number one seed in the conference for the first time since they won the NBA Championship in 2008. There were so many high points of this overall successful season, and we’ve narrowed them down to the top five!
“Paul Pierce Day” sees win streak hit seven
The Paul Pierce retirement tour wasn’t even close to what Kobe Bryant got, with the only stop of note coming on February 5th when the Los Angeles Clippers visited the TD Garden. Pierce made his only start of the year – playing just a few minutes before heading back to the bench – and then he reentered the game in garbage time, only to hit a late three pointer that sent the crowd into a frenzy. This was also a huge game from a basketball standpoint because it saw Boston expand their win streak to a season high seven games and it was easily one of the high points of the regular season. All five starters scored in double-figures while Kelly Olynyk and Marcus Smart both added 13 points off the bench as the Celtics easily handled a good Clippers team.
Thomas drops 53 in overtime win
No team was able to break home court advantage in the Celtics second round series against the Washington Wizards, so it was vital for Boston to hold on for the win when game two at the TD Garden went to overtime. As the game went along, this quickly became a two man show. John Wall was playing out of his mind for the Wizards and finished the game with 40 points and 13 assists. While the point guard on the other end of the floor – Isaiah Thomas – only tallied four assists on the night, he put up an insane 53 points. This was the most points in a playoff game since Hall of Fame guard Allen Iverson scored 55 back in 2003 and it put Thomas just one point short of the franchise record for points in a playoff game, which is held by John Havlicek.
Celtics beat Warriors again in Oakland
Draymond Green might have had some choice words for Kelly Olynyk and his style of play during the playoffs, but that doesn’t change the fact that Olynyk carved up Green and the Warriors in Oracle Arena for the second straight year. Olynyk is prone to having a random, amazing game out of nowhere every now and again, and he didn’t hold back at all in this upset victory by scoring 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting while also chipping in with five rebounds, five assists and a team high three steals. This helped him finish the game with an insane +29 rating while the next best player that night was Jaylen Brown at +13, none of Boston’s starters topped +4 in the win. Isaiah Thomas had a 25 point, three assist game and the stellar defense of Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart shinned brightly in the fourth quarter and the Celtics held Golden State to just 12 points in the final frame.
Avery Bradley stuns Cavaliers at the buzzer
One of the more memorable moments from the 2015-16 campaign was when Avery Bradley’s buzzer beater sunk the Cavaliers in their own building and he did it again this year, only this time it came with the high stakes of the playoffs. Bradley came off a strong Al Horford screen and was wide open as he took the pass from Marcus Smart and buried the go-ahead three with 0.1 seconds left on the clock. While Bradley was the hero who sealed the game for Boston, you can’t forget about Smart’s MVP effort as he filled in as a starter for the injured Isaiah Thomas. Smart scored a team high 27 points and was a lights out 7-for-10 from beyond the arc. He also added seven assists, five rebounds, two steals and a block to the mix as well.
Boston topples Wizards in game seven
The first game seven of the Brad Stevens-era went over well and it was all about the Boston bench in this one. Not a single player coming off the bench for the Celtics that night shot below 50% from the floor and the second unit combined for 48 points on 17-for-26 shooting. Kelly Olynyk fueled this charge, dropping 26 points on 10-for-14 shooting to go along with four rebounds and four assists while Marcus Smart added 13 points on 4-for-7 shooting paired with six rebounds, four assists and two blocks. It was an epic turnaround from game six, where the Celtics bench scored just five points on a combined 2-for-15 shooting.