When the city of Boston needed him the most, Grant Williams delivered. After trailing 3-2, the Celtics defied the odds and earned their spot in the Eastern Conference Finals, where they will face the Miami head in a 2020 ECF rematch.
Williams hit seven threes and led the Celtics in scoring to push Boston to a massive 109-81 victory over the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks. Jayson Tatum scored 23 and Jaylen Brown had 19 points in a slugfest for the ages. Marcus Smart once again conducted the offense well, recording 11 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. Tatum also had eight assists.
The team defense was excellent for the Celtics in the game seven victory, holding the Bucks to 4/33 shooting from three. In addition, two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo managed just 25 points on 10/26 shooting.
The pivotal game seven started off with a Grant Williams three, but the Bucks took a 10-3 lead as Antetokounmpo orchestrated the Milwaukee offense with poise. After five minutes, he had six points, four rebounds and three assists.
Tatum responded, hitting his first two shots, both threes, for an early six points. Smart had three assists in the first half of quarter one. The Celtics offense struggled to get rolling in the first, trailing Milwaukee 24-14 with two minutes left. Antetokounmpo scored or assisted on all 24 Milwaukee points.
Despite being active, Robert Williams III was reported to be heavily limited if he was to enter the game. This was confirmed when Head Coach Ime Udoka brought Daniel Theis in before Williams III in the first quarter.
Brown hit a floater over Brook Lopez to close out the first quarter, bringing the score to 26-20 Milwaukee as the Celtics tried to rebound from a slow start. Brown and Tatum led Boston with seven points each, while Antetokounmpo had 10 for the Bucks.
Lopez was important early for Milwaukee. He had seven points in the first quarter, then scored Milwaukee’s first second quarter basket. The 7-footer was making Boston pay down low.
As the second wore on, the Celtics began their climb back into the game. The defense forced turnovers, Grant Williams blocked a jump shot, then the Celtics attacked on offense.
Brown hit a layup to tie it at 30 with nearly nine minutes left. A dunk from Al Horford gave Boston their first lead since being up 3-2, up 32-30.
Lopez continued to be effective for the Bucks, reaching 11 points to go along with two blocks midway through the second.
After seven unanswered from Milwaukee, which gave the Bucks a 37-32 lead, Udoka called a timeout with six minutes to go in the first half. Antetokounmpo had 16 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
Coming out of the timeout, Grant Williams nailed a corner three over Lopez, giving him eight points. Tatum drained a deep ball from the left wing the next possession, reclaiming the lead.
The second quarter continued to be a slugfest. With two minutes remaining, the score sat 40-40. The Bucks shot 3-17 from three and the Celtics shot 8-21, buoyed by Tatum’s 4-4 shooting from deep.
Grant Williams closed out the quarter strong, hitting his third three to reach 11 points. Williams shot 3-8 from deep in the first half.
After that three gave Boston a 45-43 lead, Smart stole the ball from Antetokounmpo, then drew a shooting foul on a half-court heave for three free throws to close out the half. Smart’s three free throws gave Boston a five-point halftime lead, 48-43.
Celtics lead 48-43 at the half— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) May 15, 2022
Tatum - 17 points
Grant - 11 points
Brown - 10 points
Celtics - 35.6% FGs
Celtics - 9-22 threes
Celtics - 9 turnovers
Giannis - 17/12/7
Lopez - 11 points
Holiday - 6 points
Bucks - 39.5% FGs
Bucks - 3-19 threes
Bucks - 7 turnovers
The Celtics opened the second half on fire, hitting their first 4/5 shots, including three 3-pointers. After leading by five at halftime, the Celtics were up 59-47 after two minutes elapsed. The Bucks called timeout as Boston led by 12.
The offensive explosion continued after the timeout. Tatum hit Brown with a pretty alley-oop pass for an and-one layup. The Celtics had 61 points, with 37 of them from Tatum and Brown.
The alley-oop to Brown was Tatum’s fifth assist of the night.
GO UP AND GET IT JB pic.twitter.com/bPfUtShB7I— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) May 15, 2022
A crucial fourth foul was called on Tatum with seven and a half minutes left in the third quarter. Tatum went up for a floater, making contact with Pat Connaughton’s face for the offensive foul.
Grant Williams hit his fifth three of the night midway through the quarter, shooting 5/12 for 17 points. Meanwhile, the Bucks offense ground to a standstill, as the shooting woes sunk their offensive game plan.
After 10 points in the first quarter alone, Antetokounmpo scored just seven in the second quarter and first eight minutes of the third. The Bucks missed 13 straight threes before Bobby Portis drained one with four minutes left in the third.
Despite Tatum sitting, the Celtics maintained their double-digit lead as the third continued. Grant Williams continued to come up clutch when his number was called, drilling a three to put Boston up 16, 76-60 with two minutes remaining in the third.
The Bucks cut the lead to 12, but the Celtics responded with yet another three, making it 79-64 on a Derrick White three. Boston carried that 15-point lead into the fourth. After three quarters, Grant Williams led the Celtics with 22 points, shooting 6/15 (40%) from three.
Williams continued the shooting performance, hitting 3-pointer number seven for the Celtics first fourth-quarter bucket. That seventh three tied the record for most in a game seven in league history.
After a Payton Pritchard three, the Celtics’ lead reached 19, the largest of the night. A Milwaukee timeout came as Boston led 87-68 with nine and a half minutes left.
Pritchard hit another three, putting him 3/3, to give the Celtics a 20-point lead. The next possession, he hit a step back in the same spot to go 4/4.
The Bucks offense was depleted, and couldn’t muster anything to compete with Boston, and the Celtics earned their spot in the Eastern Conference Finals, where they will face the Heat.
For more postgame coverage of the Celtics massive game seven win, tune into the the Garden Report Postgame Show LIVE on CLNS Media right after the game. Join A Sherrod Blakely, Bobby Manning, Josue Pavon, Jimmy Toscano and host John Zannis for a full breakdown. Plus, the guys will discuss Grant Williams’ electric performance.