Celtics-Sixers: Five stats for Game 5

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Celtics-Sixers: Five stats for Game 5

On Monday night the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers will battle to gain in edge in the Eastern Conference Semifinals series tied at 2-2. Here are five stats to keep in mind for Game 5.

1. Rondo Moving Up the Ranks
After dishing 15 assists in Game 4, Rajon Rondo (736) is now three assists shy of tying Dennis Johnson for fifth most postseason assists in Celtics franchise history. Larry Bird ranks first with 1,062 postseason assists, followed by Bob Cousy (937), John Havlicek (825), and Bill Russell (770).

2. The Writings on the Glass:
The Celtics are undefeated this postseason (5-0) when outrebounding or grabbing the same number of rebounds as their opponent. They have only won one playoff game when being outrebounded (1-4).

3. Looking to Jumpstart the Week:
The Celtics have played one playoff game on a Monday this postseason, last week's 82-81 Game 2 loss to the 76ers. It is the only day of the week on which they have a losing record (SundayTuesdayWednesdayFriday, 1-1, ThursdaySaturday, 1-0).

4. Bouncing Back:
Both teams are 4-0 in the game immediately following a loss this postseason. In the first round of the playoffs, the Celtics and the 76ers lost Games 1 and 5 and won Games 2 and 6. In the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the 76ers followed up losses in Games 1 and 3 with wins in Games 2 and 4. After losing Game 2, the Celtics won Game 3 and look to take Game 5 after falling short in Game 4.

5. Title Experience:
None of the 76ers have won an NBA championship. Four of the Celtics (Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo) have.

Chris Mannix: 'Great chance' Celtics capture No. 1 seed

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Chris Mannix: 'Great chance' Celtics capture No. 1 seed

Chris Mannix discusses the Boston Celtics chances of sealing the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and which low-seed team will give them the most problems in the playoffs.

Kelly Olynyk's 3-point game is helping him produce all over floor

Kelly Olynyk's 3-point game is helping him produce all over floor

Waltham, mass. – Kelly Olynyk is in a good place right now. 

He’s playing a key role on one of the top teams in the NBA, doing more than just stretch the floor with long-range jumpers and 3-pointers. He has been a solid positional defender most of his time in the NBA, but lately he has become one of the team’s best rebounders … really!

But more than anything, Olynyk is in the best shape of his career both mentally and physically, delivering strong play in several categories.

“When he plays aggressive and with confidence, that’s when he’s at his best,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. 

And lately, the best of Olynyk has been in steady rotation for the Celtics who will host the Phoenix Suns tonight. 

Olynyk attributes his recent strong play to seizing his opportunity to help the Celtics in what has been a season-long area of weakness. The fourth-year big man is a threat to score from 3-point range whenever he’s on the floor. Because of that, teams are overly concerned about his long-range shooting which has allowed him to be an effective driver into the paint and finisher around the rim. 

He has also benefited by being healthy, something he could not say was the case on the eve of the Celtics’ postseason run last season which ended in the second round to the Atlanta Hawks. Olynyk was hampered by a sore right shoulder injury that limited him in the playoffs against Atlanta, and later required surgery which sidelined him for the start of this season. 

But those pain-filled days where he gave more thought to his shoulder rather than shouldering a greater load for the Celtics, are behind him now. 

“It’s something that I had to deal with and I had to get surgery,” Olynyk said. “Now it feels better than it has. I feel strong, confident, ready to roll.”

Boston has won five of its last six games, and the play of Olynyk off the bench has been among the reasons for the team’s latest run of success. In those six games, Olynyk has averaged 10.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting a team-high 64.9 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from 3-point range in 20.5 minutes per game – all better than his season average in those respective categories. 

And among Celtics players who have averaged double-digit minutes in that span, Olynyk has a team-best rebounding percentage of .170 in addition to an effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%) of .689 which is also tops among Boston players during their last six games.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens isn’t surprised to see Olynyk playing as well as he has now that he’s injury-free.

“I don’t think there’s anything more important than playing with clear minds and fresh legs,” Stevens said. “I just think that, and not being injured is a big part of that.”

For Olynyk, part of the challenge he has had since coming to the NBA was finding that balance between being aggressive and assertive, while making sure he got teammates involved when the opportunity presents itself.

“There’s definitely a fine line between being aggressive, forcing things, over-aggressive and create and open things up for others,” Olynyk said. “It’s kind of a balance, kind of like a yin and yang; just go out and play basketball the way you know how to play it. That’s what’s going to make you the best version of yourself and your team the best version they can be.”

Olynyk’s teammates encourage him often (Avery Bradley and Thomas are probably the two most consistent in his ear) to be more assertive, but they recognize he tends to be hesitant far too often for a player with his skillset.

“When he’s second-guessing and … shot-faking when he should have shot, just not being the aggressive player that we need him to be … we don’t need him to be like that,” said Thomas. “We believe in him. He just has to remain confident at all times. When he’s confident and aggressive, he’s a hell of a player.”