3 reasons the heavily-favored Cavaliers shouldn't overlook the Celtics

Washington guard Markelle Fultz stands on the court during an NCAA college basketball game against Arizona State Thursday Feb. 16 2017 in Seattle

Washington guard Markelle Fultz stands on the court during an NCAA college basketball game against Arizona State Thursday Feb. 16 2017 in Seattle

The Celtics advance to the Eastern finals for the first time since 2012, when they also faced LeBron James and fell in a seven-game thriller to the Miami Heat.

The Boston Celtics are heading to the Eastern Conference Finals after defeating the Washington Wizards 115-105 in Game 7.

Star point guard Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 29 points and reserve forward Kelly Olynyk (yes, really) poured in a surprising 26. He canned two 3-pointers during the final six and a half minutes of the game - two daggers that sank deep into the hearts of the visiting Wizards - the second of which was a no-doubter that he followed with three steps toward the basket as he held his swan neck high in the air.

"A friend called me and said "Be at your best when your best is needed" and my best was needed tonight", Olynyk said after the win. "It was a team effort, hard work".

The No.1 seeded Celtics have little time to celebrate Game 7's heart-pounding win as the second-seeded Cavaliers invade the TD Garden for Game 1 of their title series on Wednesday night (Thursday AM in Manila). In a hard-fought series that has seen both teams protecting their home court, the Celtics enter the game as the favourites as the series shifts to the TD Garden for the series-decider. We just lost our composure, and they picked us apart.

The Celtics were the 2nd best team defending 3-pointers this season, and they're 2nd best in the playoffs so far. Boston took just one of four games against Cleveland this regular season, and also the Cavs have LeBron James, so they'll be heavy underdogs.

Give plenty of credit to Beal (38 points), who hit everything over the last two games. He got Beal to play up to his max contract and Otto Porter blossomed into a three-point threat. He hit 9 of 10 free throw attempts, and still it wasn't enough, with Wall bringing just 18 points on 8-of-23 shooting.

Washington did respond to Boston's run with a 7-0 run to climb back into it, but they were never able to get over the hump.

"I think they are going to compete, and they competed at a high level against us", center Ian Mahinmi said. Then Olynyk took over. He scored 11 of 13 points for Boston as the Celtics stretched their advantage to 110-100. "They would come to the sideline in the fourth quarter and nobody was talking because there was nothing left". "I get my treatment every day and I'm ready to play".

The Celtics' difference-maker came via the bench, the short-armed Canadian out of Gonzaga, Kelly Olynyk. Beal nearly singlehandedly kept the Wizards afloat late in the second half, hitting big shot after big shot. Well, Beal and Wall will have to conjure up more of what they were cooking in Game 6.

This was a worthy Game 7, a tight, well-fought nerve-wracker that could have gone either way. The Wizards were only 1 of 6 shooting, after four minutes. He dominated, launching daggers left and right during the Celtics' 18-2 run to open the fourth and grab their first double digit lead of the night.

Boston's fans agreed with that sentiment, even though they may not have predicted such a tale coming true during Game 7.

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