Kelly Olynyk grew up watching fellow Canadian Steve Nash. When Olynyk was young, watching Nash meant watching the Dallas Mavericks. Nash spent six seasons as the Mavericks’ point guard, and he often could be found running the pick-and-roll with a 7-foot German sharpshooter named Dirk Nowitzki.
Eventually, Olynyk grew . . . and then he kept growing, from 6-3 to 6-10 in one year, and to 7 feet soon after. Like Nowitzki, Olynyk was fond of shooting 3-pointers. Over time, comparisons bubbled up, not so much that the players were equal, but that they looked similar (with the same long hair) and played similar styles.
At TD Garden Sunday, Olynyk, a rookie forward, finally got his first up-close look at Nowitzki during the Celtics’ 102-91 loss to the Mavericks. Nowitzki led the Mavericks with a game-high 20 points, while Olynyk struggled, with 6 points on 2-of-7 shooting off the bench.
“He’s a guy that I’ve watched since I was really little,” Olynyk said before the game.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said that the 35-year-old Nowitzki is a player the 22-year-old Olynyk should study.
“He’s a guy that I’m sure Kelly, whether he’ll say this or not, looks up to,” Stevens said before the loss. “And [he] should. He’s a guy that has great skill, that can stretch the defense, that doesn’t hesitate to shoot, score.”
Said Olynyk: “He’s a great guy for a lot of people to look up to. He’s a perennial All-Star, NBA championship, international player. Really skilled in a lot of different facets of the game. He’s a big-time player.”
It’s more than just a bit outlandish to expect Olynyk to be as dominant a force as Nowitzki. But after the game, Nowitzki offered his support of Olynyk.
“Well, he’s got a good shot [to be good] and obviously in your first year you’ve got to keep working,” he said. “It’s full of highs and lows. My rookie year I remember was ugly, with a lot more lows than highs.”
Rondo stretched out
Rajon Rondo logged 36 minutes, 33 seconds, his most in the nine games this season after he sat out nearly a year following a knee injury. Stevens said after the game that Rondo won’t play with a minutes restriction anymore, although Rondo added that the restriction isn’t “completely off.”
“I won’t be playing 40 [minutes],” Rondo said after going for 15 points, 12 assists, and 8 rebounds. “But when I’m out there and my adrenaline is going, I feel fine.”
Rondo added that he isn’t at the point where he believes he can play as much as he needs to on a given night.
He won’t play Monday when the Celtics play the Bucks in Milwaukee. Rondo will sit out to rest for precautionary reasons as he is still easing his way back into form.
Rondo earned his 4,000th career assist in the first half on a pass to Kris Humphries. Rondo sits in sixth on the Celtics’ all-time assists list.