By Terrance Turner
May 15, 2022
The Boston Celtics advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals after steamrolling the Milwaukee Bucks 109-181 in today’s Game 7. Boston power forward Grant Williams exploded for a career-high 27 points, sinking one thrilling three-pointer after another, as the Celtics pulled away in the second half to put the game out of reach.
The Celtics took a 3-0 lead after a jumper from Grant Williams. But the Bucks went on a 7-0 run, topped by a three-pointer from Giannis Antetokounmpo. Bucks center Brook Lopez and Celtics small forward Jayson Tatum traded threes to make it 13-6, then shooting guard Jaylen Brown sank a three of his own, making it 13-9. Brown made a driving layup and Lopez scored from 15 feet away. Tatum answered Holiday’s two-point shot with a three.
But then the Bucks went on a 7-0 run, powered almost entirely by Antetkounmpo. After assisting Bobby Portis with a three-pointer, Giannis added a jump shot and two free throws. He’d finish the quarter with 10 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists. Milwaukee led 26-16 at the end of the quarter.
According to Sporting News, the Celtics took a 32-30 lead with 8:19 to go in the half – their first lead since 3-0 in the first quarter. Boston was amidst a 12-2 run, forcing the Bucks to take a timeout. Following the timeout, Milwaukee rattled off seven straight points. But the Celtics took a five-point lead into the half after Marcus Smart forced a turnover and created a three-shot foul on a halfcourt heave to end the second quarter. The Celtics led 48-43 at the half.
The Celtics blew the game open in the third quarter. Fueled by Grant Williams — who had the game of his life — the Celtics played their way to a double-digit lead. Tatum drew his fourth foul at the 7:44 mark and headed to the bench with the Celtics up, 63-53. The Bucks couldn’t take advantage, however: it became 60-76 after one of Williams’ threes. The lead swelled to 19 after a three-pointer from Payton Pritchard. But Williams ended the quarter with six of them.
According to ESPN, Williams’ 18 attempts are the most ever attempted in a Game 7 in NBA history. It also ties Ray Allen for the most three-point attempts ever by a Celtics player — and that was a triple-overtime game against the Bulls in 2009. His seven makes ties him with Stephen Curry (twice) and Marcus Morris for the most 3-pointers ever in a Game 7.
The Bucks were left reeeling by Boston’s onslaught and couldn’t keep up. The team struggled with shooting, as Antetokounmpo was forced to carry the load for Milwaukee. Antetkounmpo finished with 25 points, making him the lead scorer. Jrue Holiday scored 21 points, but missed all six of his three-pointers.
The offensive issues continued in the fourth quarter. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, “The Celtics headed into the fourth quarter with a 79-64 advantage, although the Bucks had some hope; home teams had trouble holding on to big leads in the series.
Holiday made a layup to start the fourth, but the Bucks couldn’t dent the lead any further. The home crowd could sense the victory and rose to ear-splitting volume when Payton Pritchard’s three-pointer gave the Celtics a 87-68 lead with 9:06 left.
Pritchard, who had been a nonfactor in the series, then really got the home crowd on its feet when he made back-to-back threes that made it 94-73. On the second shot he shook Holiday with a series of dribbling moves before shooting over the Bucks’ stalwart backcourt defender.
The Bucks never recovered. Marcus Smart stretched the lead to 22 with a 23-foot three-point jumper, and center Al Horford neutralized a dunk by Antetokounmpo with two free throws. Then Williams added two points from nine feet out to take the Celtics into triple digits. It was 101-77 with 2:26 remaining. The benches emptied after two minutes, and the Bucks’ postseason came to an end.