Celtics-Bucks takeaway: Grant Williams’ historic Game 7 moves C forward

BOSTON — The Celtics are four wins away from a trip to the NBA Finals.

That statement would have sounded ridiculous in late January when Boston was the No. 10 seed in the Eastern Conference at 23-24. But the Celtics’ unlikely turnaround continued on Sunday, as Grant Williams’ historic performance powered a 109-81 rout of the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 7 of the Eastern Semi-Finals at TD Garden.

Williams scored a career-high 27 points and tied an NBA Game 7 record with seven 3-pointers on 18 attempts. Jayson Tatum added 23 points on 7 of 14 shooting with eight assists, while Jaylen Brown collected 19 points and Smart Marcus dropped 10 assists.

Grant Williams sets Game 7 record with 3-point shooting prowess

The victory moves Boston to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in three seasons. The C’s will face the No. 1 seed Miami Heat, with Game 1 scheduled for Tuesday.

Here are our takeaways from a thrilling victory at TD Garden:

Batman to the rescue

The Bucks apparently had no interest in keeping Grant Williams on the 3-point line, and early on that strategy worked. Williams made just two of his first seven 3-point attempts as the Bucks kept him close early on.

However, Milwaukee continued to keep Williams open and he eventually made them pay, making five of his last 11 attempts to finish 7 of 18 from range.

Williams’ 18 3-point attempts are a new Game 7 record, breaking Stephen Curry’s record of 15 attempts.

The Bucks were right to try and get the ball out of the hands of Tatum and Brown, but Williams was a great 3-point shooter in the regular season (41.1%) so they were playing with fire, letting Williams get as much of open looks – and he burned them.


Grant Williams with a huge match 7

Live by the three

It wasn’t just Williams knocking down outside shots for Boston.

The Celtics made 22 3-pointers on 55 attempts, breaking their own playoff record they set in Game 1 of the series. Tatum went 5 of 9 from deep, while Payton Pritchard came off the bench to hit 4 of 6 from 3-point range and give the Cs a huge spark in the second half.

Milwaukee, meanwhile, was icy from three, making just four of its 33 3-pointers (12.1%) to give Boston a 66-12 advantage on outside shots.

The Celtics have both won and lost games in this series on their 3-point shot, but they haven’t strayed from their game plan — and it ultimately won them the series.

Help wanted for Giannis

The Bucks shot 15.8% from three (3 for 19) in the first half, but trailed by just five after two quarters, and they have their superstar to thank.

Antetokounmpo scored or assisted on Milwaukee’s first 24 dots and nearly had a triple-double at halftime.

The Bucks star appeared to run out of gas in the second half, finishing with a 25-point streak on 10 of 26 shooting. Khris Middleton’s absence was evident for Milwaukee throughout the series but particularly in Game 7, as the Bucks couldn’t find consistent scoring outside of Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday (21 points).

While Antetokounmpo had a historic streak (see below), the Celtics deserve a ton of credit for wearing him down over seven games.

No time for Time Lord

Ime Udoka wasn’t joking when he said Robert Williams was available to play “as needed” in Game 7.

The Celtics big man didn’t see any ground time despite being active for the first time since Game 3. There were times earlier in the contest where Boston could have used Williams on the boards, but as the Cs extended their lead in the second half, it made no sense to play him and risk re-aggravating his left knee.

Boston will face a tough challenge in the next round in Bam Adebayo and the Heat, so Williams can use whatever else he can get.


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