For the first time in just under three weeks, the Boston Celtics got their seven-footer back.
Kelly Olynyk made his return to the court versus the Knicks, and turned in an up-and-down performance in 14 minutes off the bench.
Olynyk had been out with a right ankle sprain since Nov. 23, but provided much needed rim protection and added four points and three rebounds.
For Olynyk, it was bit of an adjustment getting back out onto the court.
“I mean it is obviously a little different than watching on the sidelines in a suit,” Olynyk said. “I was just trying to do anything I could to help the team.”
It was not all good though in Olynyk’s return. After helping the Celtics get out to a 54-48 lead at halftime, Olynyk struggled in the second half.
Olynyk could not contain Andrea Bargani in the third quarter, as Bargani scored 10 points in the quarter.
Olynyk played into the fourth quarter, but down the stretch, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens elected to go with Vitor Faverani.
“I think Kelly ran out of gas in the fourth quarter, but was pretty good in the first half,” Stevens said.
Despite some inconsistency in his play, overall, Olynyk helped to add depth off the bench, which gave the Celtics a much-needed spark in the first half.
“Especially in that first half, guys were making shots, playing together, moving the ball and coming together on defense as well,” said Olynyk of the bench’s play which chipped in with 36 points. “It was good to see.”
After lacking rim protection with Olynyk out, he was able to come right in and give the Celtics some presence in the paint.
Olynyk had a huge block on an Iman Shumpert layup late in the third quarter to put an exclamation point on his first game back.
“You know we are a team, that’s what teams do,” Olynyk said. “Sometimes some guys aren’t going to have the best nights on the starting lineups and you got to come in as a bench and lift those guys up.”