This was the moment that captured the essence of the night.
With 3:26 left in what would end as a 115-105 Game 7 victory over the Washington Wizards, Isaiah Thomas found Kelly Olynyk open outside the three-point arc. Olynyk straightened for his shot. Swish. Suddenly facing a 10-point deficit, Wizards coach Scott Brooks rushed to call a timeout.
The 7-footer with the man bun, the guy who Draymond Green insists is a dirty player, certainly had done the Wizards dirty in the decisive game of this intense series. TD Garden reverberated with chants of "Kelly! Kelly!" And, yes, here was that moment.
Olynyk walked into the arms of Thomas, all 5-9 of him, for a huge hug. It looked like a dad hugging his fifth-grade son. The place went nuts.
"It was unbelievable," Thomas said. "You dream of winning Game 7s, playing in the Garden. The fans were amazing. Kelly was MVP tonight. He did it all. He made three-pointers. He took it to the hole. He played really tough."
The Celtics' bench had scored only five points in the Game 6 loss at Washington. The bench obviously needed to do more. In scoring the most points by an NBA reserve in a Game 7 since Leandro Barbosa had 26 for the Suns in 2006, Olynyk turned into an instant folk hero in Boston.
Game 7? Kelly? 26 points on 10 of 14 shooting? Including 14 points in the fourth quarter? Call it the Power of the Man Bun.
"Kelly had a great game," Brooks said. "He made a lot of shots."
"We needed it," Olynyk said. "We needed to help the starters, help Isaiah. With all the attention he was drawing, he was getting rid of it and putting us in great positions to make plays."
In the end, maybe this Monday night in May, this seventh game of the Eastern Conference semifinals, will be remembered as little more than a prelude to getting blown out by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
In the end, as summer nights drag toward next autumn, maybe NBA fans and NBA experts will look at each other and say in unison, "Nobody could compete with the Warriors and Cavs in 2017. Everybody else was a tier below."
And maybe that will all be true starting Wednesday night in Game 1 of the conference finals at TD Garden.
Yet to ignore this night, to ignore the quality depth that a guy like Olynyk provided, to ignore what Thomas did to push his team into the NBA Final Four is to ignore the steppingstones needed to return to glory.
For a handful of years now, Celtics fans keep asking where is that transcendent player? Where is the guy who makes the difference between good and great? It turns out he already is here.
"I don't believe in pressure," Thomas said before the game. "I work too hard to be scared of any type of pressure."
Thomas again was double- and triple-teamed. Still he got his 29 points and, although neither coach Brad Stevens nor Thomas would elaborate, they confirmed Thomas is dealing with more physical problems. His whole body is hurting. That's what Thomas said.
"Isaiah was terrific," Stevens said. "His 12-to-2, assists-to-turnovers is as powerful as the 29 points. He made a lot of great plays. A lot of those shots that others made in the fourth quarter were off his passes."
"They were putting a lot of attention on Isaiah," Olynyk said. "We were playing 4-on-3 a lot. They weren't going to let him make plays at the end. They were going to make other people do it. Someone had to do it."
So Olynyk did in scoring the most points by a Celtics reserve in a playoff game since Eddie House had 31 in 2009."
"Kelly gave us an enormous lift with those 14 in the fourth quarter," Stevens said, "but he did, too, with his 12 in the first half.
"If Kelly doesn't go nuts and they throw in a few more threes, we're not talking about the next step, right?"
Olynyk is a fairly laid-back Canadian. He doesn't ordinarily show a lot of emotion. He was jacked on this night. To say TD Garden was loud, doesn't do it justice. Stevens called it ridiculous, that there's no place like the Garden in the playoffs.
And, yes, Olynuk heard the fans chanting his name.
"Yes, I did, between MVP chants for [Thomas]," Olynyk said. "It was unbelievable, especially to do it in front of our fans, for the city of Boston, to feel that energy and passion of 20,000 people, you thrive off that."
These are an important 24 hours in the growth of the Celtics. Through their trades with the Nets and Brooklyn's subsequent demise, the Celtics have the best chance at the No. 1 pick Tuesday night when the NBA lottery is held. That chance is 25 percent. They also can pick no lower than fourth.
The Celtics could get Markelle Fultz. They could get Lonzo Ball. They could get Josh Jackson or Jayson Tatum. They also could trade the pick.
They are a franchise that continues to ascend. And you had to wonder what free agents Gordon Hayward and Blake Griffin thought as they watched this game. You have to wonder if Danny Ainge will continue to probe deals involving Paul George and Jimmy Butler.
Thomas had talked on Sunday about how Game 7s are where greats are made and how so many Celtics had made their names in such situations.
"I thought about it a lot," Thomas said. "All night last night and today I watched 2008 Paul Pierce vs. LeBron and how special that game was. It was a historic game. I knew this was going to be a big-time game tonight."
In his pregame meeting with the media, Stevens had channeled his inner hoodie to point out how big time.
"I think the person who certainly says it all the time around here that we talk about is [Patriots coach Bill] Belichick, with the idea of doing your job and staying in the moment and focusing on the task at hand. Because that's really all you can do. If you get too caught up in doing things well or bad, it'll flip."
"Do Your Job." That's the Patriots way. Olynyk was listening.
The Celtics won the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. They advance to the conference finals. Only a fool would say the season has not been successful. Still, successes are relative, and they are not quite where they need to be yet. Hey, maybe they throw a scare into the Cavs. Who knows?
"They're tremendous, the defending champs," Stevens said. "I think they're playing better this year than they did last year, when I watch them at least."
"Getting to the conference finals is off the bucket list," Thomas said "Nobody thought we'd get here this fast. Now, we've got to get ready for the defending champs. The good thing is we have home court advantage. We know it's going to be tough, but at this point, anything can happen. We really believe it."