Tuesday, September 15 - Game 1 - Heat at Celtics
Pregame – Boston Set To Face Off with Two Former Celtics
BOSTON – The time has arrived for the Boston Celtics to face off with a couple of very familiar face.
When Boston opens up Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight against the Heat, it will be taking on two players who were key cogs in the team’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals a little more than three years ago.
Following the 2017 season, during which the C’s were eliminated in five games of the Conference Finals by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kelly Olynyk departed during the offseason to sign with the Heat. The Celtics traded wing Jae Crowder that offseason as well, and four teams later, he has found a home with Miami.
Crowder and Olynyk rank fifth and seventh on the Heat, respectively, in playoff scoring with averages of 12.8 and 6.9 points per game.
“I think they’re both great competitors, great people, and they impact winning,” Stevens said of the two former Celtics. “It’s not a surprise they’re doing it again.”
Of the two players, Stevens was asked specifically about the development Olynyk has showcased during his three seasons with Miami. Stevens made it sound as if the 6-foot-11, sharpshooting big man is the same ol’ guy with whom Celtics fans fell in love.
“He’s always been able to shoot it,” said Stevens. “He’s always been able to almost catch it like a guard and shoot, run off screens, or slip to catch it on the move and shoot. He’s always had all the tricks with his shot fakes and the long steps.
“He’s creative with how he can maximize his strides and his steps in getting a guy off-balance and finishing around him. And he’s always been a very solid positional defender. With great experience, with his work ethic, a great situation that he’s in, he takes advantage of his skill set.”
Stevens said that from the moment Olynyk arrived in Boston, the coach thought he “was going to be a longtime, really good NBA player.” Now, seven years into his career, the big man is teaming up with another former Celtic in Crowder to try to take Boston down.
- Marc D'Amico