The Celtics and unlikely hero Williams defeat the champions
A tired-looking Bucks had their hopes of making the finals dashed by Grant Williams, who hit a career-high 27 points for the Celtics in Game 7. Miami await.
The 2021 champions reached the end of the road in this year’s Eastern Conference semi-final playoffs. It was the Celtics who emerged the stronger from this marathon of seven games, winning the last one of the series 109-81. They will now face the Miami Heat in the final and while they won’t find that series as easy as they did brushing aside a Bucks side without one of the star players, Khris Middleton, it promises to be an electric contest nevertheless.
The seventh and final game finished 109-81 at the TD Garden, and 4-3 to Boston. It’s a huge prize for the Celtics and punishment of similar magnitude for Milwaukee. Grant Williams isn’t exactly known for being a 3-point specialist - he missed his first 25 attempts at the start of his NBA career. He was only in the starting line-up because Robert Williams III’s troubled left knee flared up. Williams really came into his own on Sunday night, scoring a career-high 27 points to which he added six rebounds, two blocks on 10-of-22 from the field and 7-of-18 from downtown. “Every shot Grant took today was a great shot,” team mate Jayson Tatum enthused afterwards. “He played great tonight, and in the playoffs you need that. You need guys coming off the bench to be a star in their role. Grant won us a playoff game tonight, a Game 7. I’m extremely happy for him”.
Four of Williams’ team mates posted double figures - Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Payton Pritchard, who added 14 points off the bench. The 23-year-old’s seventh triple of the night came at a crucial time, too - just as the Bucks had started to gather momentum at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Tatum was pivotal on both ends despite seven turnovers, putting up 23 points on 50 per cent shooting, eight assists and six rebounds. The Cs pulled away in the fourth quarter, extending their lead to 28 points by the buzzer.
The Celtics were able to restrict Giannis Antetokounmpo from scoring easily, with the reigning finals MVP getting 25 points but on 10-of-26 shooting, along with his 20 rebounds and nine assists.
Hero of the night Grant Williams, told reporters afterwards, “It’s tough to get in your own head when your entire team, like 15 people walk up to you and say ‘let it fly, keep shooting. For me it was just like, alright, they’re encouraging it so might as well take advantage. As time went on got more comfortable, kept shooting. Ime [Udoka] made a joke I shot 18 and that’s probably the most 3s I’ve shot in my life in a single game. It was fun but just great we got a win.”
With the series-deciding win, the Celtics have set up a rematch of the 2020 Eastern Conference finals, facing the first-seeded Miami Heat with the first matchup of the seven-game series tipping off on Tuesday.