The Celtics beat the Milwaukee Bucks 109-81 in Game 7 at TD Garden Sunday afternoon to win the series 4-3 and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the fourth time in six years.
Grant Williams lead all scorers with 27 points (career-high) on 10-of-22 shooting, including 7-of-18 from deep, to go along with six rebounds and two blocks. Jayson Tatum coming off a 46-point performance in Game 6 to force a decisive seventh game, scored 23 points on 7-of-14 from the floor and 5-of-9 from 3-point range, while also adding eight assists.
"As much as it hurt to lose Game 5, I was looking forward to that challenge," Tatum said in his postgame presser. "I believe in myself, I believe in this team. I expected to play the way I did and for us to respond the way we did."
Jaylen Brown added 19 points, eight rebounds and Payton Pritchard chipped in 14 points on 4-of-6 from 3 off the bench for the Celtics, who improved their Game 7 record to 25-9, will face the Miami Heat Tuesday night in a rematch of the 2020 East Finals in the Disney bubble -- where they lost 4-2.
"We didn't want it to be over. We didn't overcome all the stuff we did during the regular season for that to be it," said Brown in his postgame comments. "At the end of the day, we wanted to come out, leave it all out there. I think we did."
Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 25 points (17 in the first half) on 10-of-26 from the field, 20 rebounds and nine assists. The former two-time league MVP only scored eight points in the second half, as he shot 3-of-11, including 1-of-6 in the fourth quarter.
"Shots that I usually make wasn't going in. That's basketball. That's sports," Antetokounmpo said to reporters after the loss. "Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. There's a winner. There's a loser. You've just got to live with it."
Jrue Holiday had 21 points on 21 shot attempts, with eight assists, while Brook Lopez notched a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Bucks, who are now 3-9 in Game 7s.
The Celtics used an 11-4 run to open the third quarter and take a 59-47 advantage, before Tatum picked up his fourth foul, but Boston would score 16 of the next 25 points with their All-Star on the bench to end the period.
With a 79-64 lead to start the final frame, the Celtics held the Bucks to only 17 fourth quarter points, as they were ahead by as many as 28 points. In the end Milwaukee was outscored 61-38 in the second half after putting up 43 points entering halftime.
Ime Udoka, who is now 8-3 in the playoffs as his first year at the helm as Boston's head coach, believed playing a Game 7 at home made all the difference. The Celtics won their final game of the regular season to earn the second seed and homecourt advantage, while the Bucks elected to rest their starters in a 133-115 blowout loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers -- giving the C's the tiebreaker despite having identical records of 51-31.
"This is what we played for, why we played the season out, to have home-court advantage in a Game 7," Udoka said. "If you believe in the basketball gods, those things matter."
The Celtics will have a quick turnaround and head to Miami for Game 1 of their best-of-7 series against the Heat. Game 1 tips-off Tuesday night at 8:30 ET on ESPN.
Boston hit 42% of their shots, including 22-of-55 (40%) from 3-point territory (NBA record for most made 3s in a Game 7), while the Bucks were 36.7% from the floor and 4-of-33 (12.1%)from behind the arc. Celtics had 29 assists (10 of them came from Marcus Smart) on 37 baskets and Milwaukee dished out 20 dimes on 33 made attempts. The C's were outrebounded 56-48 and outscored in the paint 48-26.
Photo used courtesy of Getty Images
Photo used courtesy of Getty Images