Per the predictions for how Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals might play out, Grant Williams leading the Boston Celtics in scoring against the defending NBA champions did not feature on anyone’s list.
Dared to shoot by the Milwaukee Bucks, Williams made seven of Boston’s 22 3-pointers in a resounding 109-81 victory to eliminate two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the league’s 2021 champions.
THE BUCK STOPS HERE ✅ pic.twitter.com/eALAIUttOB— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 15, 2022
The Bucks defense is designed to protect the paint. As a result, they grant open threes to players they deem less of a threat from distance. On a team with sharpshooters like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, that meant giving Williams tons of open space.
Grant Williams had not made a three-pointer against the Milwaukee Bucks since Game 4, nearly a week ago.
But in Game 7, the 23-year-old exploded, going 7-of-18 from three-point range to help the Celtics beat the Bucks. His 27 points led the Celtics as they advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals to play the Miami Heat, a rematch from 2020.
The 3rd year forward’s 18 attempts broke Stephen Curry’s record for most threes attempted in a Game 7. His seven made threes tied the record, also held by Curry.
Grant Williams was HUGE in the @celtics Game 7 win! #BleedGreen— NBA (@NBA) May 15, 2022
☘️ 27 points *playoff career-high*
☘️ 7 3PM *playoff career-high*
☘️ The @celtics advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. pic.twitter.com/wcAfBlxyXL
The Buck Halts at TD Garden
Antetokounmpo can do many things on the basketball court: scoring, passing, rebounding, blocking and defending. The Bucks had leaned on him to supply his usual brand of genius against an opponent with more depth, more options and a lot to prove.
Starting like a house on fire, the Greek Freak scored 25 points, 20 rebounds and nine assists; heating up in the first half, but getting limited to just 3 of 11 in the paint in the second half, including 1 for 6 the fourth quarter.
After he missed a 3-pointer just seconds into the second half, he got the ball back for a finger-roll layup that he left on the front of the rim. As the ball caromed out of bounds, Antetokounmpo doubled over in disbelief; a devolvement that highlighted the fact he is human afterall.
In a tightly contested series that was stretched to its limit, the Celtics seized on that small opening — and others like it — to build on their lead and run away with victory in Game 7.
With one game left in the series, Giannis Antetokounmpo is already 1 of just 4 players in NBA history with at least 200 points, 80 rebounds, and 40 assists in a playoff series: Elgin Baylor (1961), Oscar Robertson (1963), and LeBron James (2015).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 15, 2022
But…they all lost the series. pic.twitter.com/FYgahi0AmC
“Beat the Heat!” “Beat the Heat!”
With the assurance that their beloved team are through to the Conference Finals, The TD Garden fans goaded the C’s to “Beat the Heat!”
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving led Brooklyn Nets in the first round? The Greek Freak in round two? And make no mistake, their series with Milwaukee posed a big challenge, especially after they blew a 14-point lead to lose Game 5 at home. Facing elimination on the road in Game 6, the Celtics sailed to a win behind Tatum’s 46 points and set the stage for Game 7.
Pitched with the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals that starts on Tuesday, May 17, an unstoppable force meets with an immovable object, the test and spectacle to be made out of the series is one avid followers of the game are excited to look forward to.
This iconic photo from the last time the Celtics faced the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals 📸 pic.twitter.com/euxTV8otmA— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) May 15, 2022
The C’s are tested and proven. Their whole season, especially since January had been a test, before they found their chemistry. They played tenacious defense, as Jason Tatum and Jaylen Brown began to fulfill their twin-pronged potential, seeing the Ime Udoka tutored side emerge as the league’s best team over the second half of the regular season.