By Brian Robb, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) – The number of players the Celtics' front office is looking to make a big leap in the 2015-16 season is long, but Kelly Olynyk is at the top of that list. The seven-footer had played well with Team Canada this past summer, showing signs that the inconsistency that had plagued him throughout his first two NBA seasons may be a thing of the past.
That proved not to be the case in Olynyk's first three games of the regular season. Following a one-game suspension served on opening night, Olynyk had mustered just 11 points in 41 minutes of action, going an ugly 4-for-18 from the field and 1-of-10 from 3-point range. For a player who considers offense and shooting as his strengths, the ugly performances were alarming, and costing him playing time.
With many options in a crowded frontcourt, Stevens was not deterred from going away from the 24-year-old. He was the first big off the bench on Friday night against the Wizards and responded with one of the best all-around performances of his career in Boston's 118-98 blowout win.
The stuffed stat sheet was reflective of just how much of an impact Olynyk had on the contest. He scored 19 points in 27 minutes of action, while also adding seven rebounds, four assists, four steals and a block. Olynyk's plus/minus of +29 also topped the entire roster.
Following the game, Brad Stevens raved about the purpose Olynyk played with.
"I just thought he was aggressive right out of the gate," Stevens said, "Even though in the first one or two possessions where he drove the ball and kicked it across the floor I thought it was a move with authority instead of a move with hesitancy. And I think that the more that he can do that, the better he is.
"He's a very talented player, we've talked about that, and we need him to shoot it well for us to be a good team. We don't need him to be the greatest shooter ever, but we need him to be a threat. So it was good for all of us to see that and he had a great impact on tonight's game, I thought."
Olynyk felt like the team was waiting for this kind of performance, in which Boston's offense exploded with 40 points in the first quarter to jump out to a 20-point lead.
"I think we were long overdue for a quarter like that," Olynyk said. You know, we haven't been playing very well in the first half of games. You know, I think we just really executed our offense, moved the ball, played together, and we finally started to hit some shots."
It remains to be seen whether the confidence will carry over for the big man, but for one night, the seven-footer delivered exactly what his team needed, making Boston look more like the playoff team fans were expecting.
"We needed him to do that," Jae Crowder said. "He's been struggling a little bit. I broke shootaround today with him making a shot. That's the way we ended shootaround today with him making the corner three. So it rolled over into the game. We are just trying to get his confidence where it needs to be."
Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.
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