By Frank McLean
When you talk to Boston Celtics and Canadian national team center Kelly Olynyk and you ask him “so what do you have planned for the summer”? He laughs because a holiday and a little time off to put his feet up are not on the radar.
Olynyk’s Boston Celtics are sitting in fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings and have clinched their second straight berth in the NBA playoffs which start April 16th.
The Celtics were knocked out in the first round last year after being swept four straight by the Cleveland Cavaliers, but this year with five games left in the regular season they would have home court advantage against the Miami Heat if the playoffs started now.
Olynyk is hoping for a long playoff run and making the playoffs was but the first goal for the Celtics. Getting to at least the second round is the real goal for the team and if that happens there is a good chance Olynyk won’t have any time off this summer.
Olynyk and his Canadian national team teammates have a date in the Philippines July 4th through the 10th in a last ditch attempt for the men’s squad to make it to the Rio Summer Olympics and if that happens it’s off to Brazil and the Summer Olympics from August 5th to the 21st.
If everything works out he might get the Labour Day weekend off. Then it’s back in the gym because three weeks after that it will be the start of training camp for the 2016-17 NBA season.
Talking to Olynyk when the Celtics were in Toronto recently, he knows the summer may be long, but he is ready to embrace it.
“It could be a real long summer,” Olynyk said. “There could be no break until the end of the Olympics. You wish it will happen but whatever happens, happens. We are going to give everything we got as a team and represent our country.”
“For me it’s an exciting time. With the Celtics playoff push it’s going to be an exciting three or four months and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.”
The injury bug hit Olynyk after the All-Star break as he hurt his shoulder, but everything is ok now.
“It’s getting better every day,” Olynyk said. “I have to do stretching exercises that keep it mobile. A lot of it is getting the strength back.”
On the Celtics playoff push Olynyk said the team is ready for a longer run this time around.
“Everybody is playing for each other. We try and execute our game plan every night. Coach (head coach Brad Stevens) does a great job of getting the game plan across to the guys and just communicating things. Next step for us is getting into the second round.”
When asked what he thought about a possible second round playoff series against his hometown Raptors?
“I’d love that. It’s possible, it could happen. I would not be opposed to that,” a smiling Olynyk said.
Veteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.