Olynyk makes case for starting with strong play

Olynyk makes case for starting with strong play
November 7, 2013, 12:45 am
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BOSTON — Kelly Olynyk watched the opening tip from the sidelines, as he's done the previous four losses.

He's fine with not starting. Not so much the losing part.

But while he didn't start in tonight's 97-87 Celtics win, he did start the second half, a sure sign that coach Brad Stevens liked what he saw out there from the rookie big man.

Olynyk finished the game 6-for-14 from the field for 14 points, eight rebounds (four offensive), and three assists.

When he entered the game for Brandon Bass with 4:36 left to play in the first quarter, the Celtics were down 10 points - and Jazz power forward Derrick Favors and center Enes Kanter were big reasons for that.

By the end of the quarter, the C's had shaved the lead down to just three points.

He stayed in until 4:09 left in the second quarter, with the Celtics now leading by eight points. They'd end up going on a 12-2 run to end the quarter, leading by 16 at the break.

Then Olynyk got the call to start the third quarter in place of Faverani. He played 10:34 in that quarter, scoring six points and grabbing three boards. But whether or not he starts - a game or a half - doesn't matter.

“No, not at all," he said when asked if starting or coming off the bench mattered. "Especially being in the position I’m in. You know, I just want to be on the floor as much as possible and just want to help my team as much as possible. Whether it’s coming off the bench, whether it’s starting, whether it’s passing, whether it’s scoring, whether it’s rebounding, whether it’s playing defense – or all those aspects. Whether it’s cheering on the bench you want to be able to help your team as much as you can and try to contribute in every way possible."

A scary fourth quarter made it interesting, but nonetheless Olynyk and the C's earned their first win of the season.

“It’s good. It’s big for our team, especially right now," Olynyk said. "You know, coming off four tough games, to get a win, you know, we have that confidence and hopefully we can ride that and learn from that as a team.”

Olynyk's quick rise up the Celtics depth chart is certainly nothing to overlook. He's come into the NBA more ready than the average rookie, and is taking advantage of the opportunity.

Keith Bogans, a 10-year vet who has played with a number of rookies in his career, has high marks for Olynyk.

"He's a great kid," Bogans said. "I like Kelly. I like Phil and Kelly. They're two great rookies coming in willing to learn. I think Kelly is going to be a great player once he gets a feel and plays and gets a little more experience in this league, he's going to be a great player.

Bogans also says that Olynyk's playing time at such an early stage in his career (he played 29:25 tonight) will pay huge dividends down the road.

"Oh, it's a big advantage," Bogans said. "I mean, I got the opportunity to play a lot when I was young. It helped me out a lot. It builds your confidence. If you're not out there playing, it's kind of hard to build confidence. Minutes bring confidence in this league."

Fellow rookie Phil Pressey also had an impact on Wednesday's win playing 17 minutes at the point guard spot. Both he and Olynyk know that as young guys, playing time can be random - so make the most of what you get.

"It's big for him (Wednesday's performance)," Pressey said. "Like myself, going into these games you don't know where you're going to get your shots, how you're gonna play really. Him getting comfortable ... hopefully he can continue to do well."