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It's time for the second installment of the CelticsLife Awards, which, for the uninitiated, is the CelticsLife writer's choices for the best of the best of the 2016-17 Boston Celtics season. We'll be covering a wide variety of categories such as Best Individual Performance, Playoffs (which this article covers) as well as Best Game, Best Performance in a Loss, Game of the Year, Play of the Year, and many more. We've expanded the awards a bit after the deep run into the playoffs, with awards split into regular season and playoff categories to account for the wealth of great basketball we witnessed this season. So, with that said, let's dive into the second of the awards, Best Individual Performance, Playoffs:

CANDIDATES, BEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE, PLAYOFFS

Isaiah Thomas, Game Two/Round Two -  It was Chyna Thomas' birthday, or would have been, had she not died tragically just before the start of the NBA Playoffs. Isaiah made sure no one who gave a damn about basketball would forget it. With a career-high 53 points behind an all-time playoff duel with Washington Wizards guard John Wall (who put up 40 of his own) to win the night at home, I'd say he succeeded.



Avery Bradley, Game Five/Round Two - Avery, when locked in and in good health is a force to be reckoned with, and this night was no exception. Bradley was merciless to the defenders who dared to leave him open, and made them pay on both ends of the floor, snatching up six boards in addition to his 29 points on 16 of 19 shooting.



Al Horford, Game Five/Round Two - Avery wasn't the only one punishing the Wizards for doubling and tripling Thomas; Al logged one of his greatest games of the season, putting up 19 points, six rebounds, seven assists and three blocks. While not as impressive to those who only glance at the score, Horford's game was a truly balanced effort on both ends of the floor, and every bit as important to the Cs' key win.



Kelly Olynyk, Game Seven/Round Two - Hands down, the biggest game of Kelly's career. The man almost single-handedly beat the Wizards with an unexpected 26-point outing on a very efficient 10-of-14 shooting with four boards and as many assists for good measure. This might be the game we remember Kelly with given his likely offer sheet levels such play will send his way, and as far as swan songs go, this one was pretty amazing.



Marcus Smart, ECF Game Three - When Thomas went down with a season-ending hip injury, we all assumed the Celts were going to be swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, and for good reason. If you told any reasonable person Smart would go off for 27 points, five rebounds and seven assists including SEVEN OF TEN FROM THREE from a player who usually shoots that percentage inverted from deep, well - no one would believe you. But, it happened - easily the best game of Marcus' career, and possibly of the Celts in the playoffs too.



Justin Quinn: Again, I can’t look at any other performance aside from Isaiah Thomas', given he took the regular season outburst against the Miami Heat a step further - and under much more serious circumstances across multiple levels, given the stakes and emotional and physical state. It was his deceased sister's birthday, for crying out loud! Marcus Smart channeling his inner IT for Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals is probably the next closest for me given the impact it had, and how unexpected it was for all of us.

Mark Allison: Obviously IT’s 53 takes the trophy here again, but Kelly Olynyk coming out of nowhere in Game Seven against the Washington Wizards was definitely number two for me. That magical fourth quarter was something to behold - I still don’t believe it happened. While there were some other big performances from other guys in the postseason nobody took over a game the way Olynyk did in crunch time of the biggest game of the year and his career. Although, all that performance does is infuriate me. Kelly has all the tools to be great, but he just doesn’t bring them to work every night.

Josh Coyne: I really enjoy cheering for talented guys that I feel unjustly piss people off, even when I am fully aware of their irritating tendencies or defects. Kanye, Father John Misty and in this case, Olynyk. His general oafishness and turnstile defense is a consistent source of frustration for Celtics fans, but Boston was behind KO in a big way after the Kelly Oubre incident, for which he was wrongly maligned. With the series on the line, to silence the boos, the big Canadian pulled them out. KELLY VS. EVERYBODY!

WINNER: Isaiah Thomas, Game Two/Round Two - 53 points (including 29 in the fourth for the SECOND time this year) would be impressive enough. Add in the stress of his sister's death, the surgeries, and the hip injury, and the stakes, and this becomes not just a career high performance but an all-time one we were just lucky enough to witness.


NEXT UP: Game of the Year, Regular Season

PREVIOUSLY: Best Individual Performance, Regular Season

For more stories about the 2016-17 season on CelticsLife, click here. For more by Justin, click here.



Photo via sprksports.com
Follow Justin at @justinquinnn

Justin Quinn 6/09/2017 11:05:00 AM Edit
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