Olynyk, Pressey Show Off Their Clutch Gene
ORLANDO – Playing well during summer league play is one thing. Playing well when the game is on the line during summer league play is another.
The ability to stay cool, calm and collected during crunch time is rare. Not every player has the ability to keep his mind over matter. On Tuesday, Kelly Olynyk and Phil Pressey showed that they possess that rare characteristic.
Olynyk was the first of the two to showcase his clutch ability. The Celtics had been leading for all of the second and third periods but the Pacers crawled to within two points just 92 seconds into the fourth. After Darius Johnson-Odom made a technical free throw for Boston, the C’s needed a bucket to slow Indiana’s momentum. They didn’t hesitate to look in Olynyk’s direction.
The 7-footer posted up on the baseline and tossed up a turnaround, fade-away jumper over his defender. Contact on the play sent Olynyk tumbling backward into Indiana’s bench, but that didn’t bother him one bit.
Swish. Celtics on top by five.
Olynyk went on to score seven of Boston’s next nine points while shooting 3-of-3 from the floor. Olynyk knew his team needed buckets, and he knew he could provide them.
“I was definitely trying to stay aggressive,” Olynyk said of that stretch. “They went on a little run there, we kind of needed a little push, a little lift. So I was trying to focus on giving a little extra effort and making plays when I can.”
Olynyk’s nine fourth-quarter points put the Celtics in great position for the win. His final basket of the game put the Celtics on top 74-65 with 2:15 remaining. Boston was in position for the win, but Indiana responded immediately with a 7-0 run of its own.
Then in stepped Pressey.
Pressey, who had already scored two points and created two more for Olynyk in the fourth quarter, essentially won the game all by himself in the final 30 seconds.
The score was knotted at 74-74 when the teams came out of an Indiana timeout with 30.4 seconds remaining in regulation. The C’s needed a stop and a rebound, and Pressey provided both.
He defended Donald Sloan, a big guard who has already played in the NBA, on the perimeter and forced a miss with 12.9 seconds left. Pressey then attacked the miss and hauled in the rebound in the land of the trees. As he dribbled out of traffic, the 5-foot-11 point guard was fouled by Chris Wright and sent to the line.
There were 10.8 seconds left on the clock at that time. The game was on the line. Yet inside the mind of Pressey, there wasn’t a worry to be had.
“As Sully told me, ‘Are you nervous?’” Pressey recalled after the win. “I was like, ‘It’s either you miss or you make it.’ You can’t put too much pressure on yourself and just go through your usual routine that you’ve been working on since you were a little kid. So I didn’t feel any pressure at all.”
Bang. Bang. Game over.
“Phil, one of his greatest strengths is his mental toughness, his confidence in himself,” said the Celtics’ summer league head coach, Jay Larranaga. “I think from a team standpoint, to have a point guard who has that confidence, you can put the ball in his hands at the end of the game and know he’s going to make free throws. That was big.”
On Tuesday, it was Olynyk who set the Celtics up for victory and Pressey who led them to the Promised Land.
Now Boston is 2-1 on the week, and they can thank their clutch players for that.