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The Boston Celtics finally got the job done as they won their series decider with the Washington Wizards to advance to the National Basketball Association play-off conference finals. They secured a 4-3 series win, and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals to face the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"We just didn't have a great effort, all the way to the end (for) 48 minutes", said Marcin Gortat, the Wizards only starter to finish outside of double figures with six points but a game-high 11 rebounds. We know they are a unsafe team, and they can shoot 3's. He missed his last 11 shots, seven of them from behind the arc, after flexing his muscle following a basket with 7:03 left in the third quarter. The big man shot 10-for-14 from the field overall and 5 of 6 in the final frame.
The Wizards hung tough, paced by Otto Porter Jr., and closed the gap to 46-45. But Washington also had 15 turnovers, leading to 17 Celtics points.
The lively spurt improved to 22-5 in the opening minutes of the fourth as Thomas and Olynyk made key buckets to extend the Celtics' lead to 94-81.
A further 9-2 run at the start of the fourth maintained Boston's cushion and although Beal was able to keep Washington in touch, Olynyk's inspired display proved the difference. Then Olynyk took over. While we'd all love them to win both of those games to go up 2-0, realistically I'd be happy with a 1-1 split there. There is no, "I'm going to save this for the fourth quarter", because if you lose, you go home.
Both teams came out a bit tight and tentative in the first few minutes minutes.
The Celtics had the largest lead of the first half at 10-2, but that gap was quickly erased by Washington as Boston started to rack up fouls.
Bradley Beal did his best to carry Washington with 38 points, but it wasn't enough.
The Wizards have tried to make scoring hard for Thomas, sending two players - sometimes three - to prevent him from shooting. But you can be sure, the Celtics will compete - it's who they are.
Game 4: Tuesday, May 23, 8:30 p.m. In fact, if the Wizards can somehow make the Finals for the first time in close to 40 years, it will be the first time that any professional sports team (NBA, NHL, MLB, and NFL) have made it since 1998. Boston was hammered by Cleveland in a statement game late in the season.
Who: Washington Wizards vs. The statement game for Cleveland came in early April at the TD Garden in Boston. "Just being in the role that I've been, I'm just trying to take advantage of it, and I think I have".
Any other time, the Wizards could survive as a top-heavy team.
They are also now the envy of just about every franchise in the association. Celtics vs Wizards live streaming, 2017 NBA Playoffs live streaming and Game 7 live streaming info follows. Cleveland won the other games by a combined 35 points, including a 114-91 romp on April 5.
INJURY UPDATE: Wizards reserve Bojan Bogdanovic sat out Saturday's practice with the flu.