BOSTON (AP) — Grant Williams scored a career-high 27 points and hit seven 3-pointers, Jayson Tatum added 23 and the Boston Celtics set a Game 7 record with 22 3-pointers to eliminate the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks 109-81 on Sunday in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Boston will face top-seeded Miami beginning Tuesday in a rematch of the 2020 East finals. The Heat beat the Celtics in six games in that series at Walt Disney World.
The Celtics trailed early but outscored the Bucks 61- 38 in the second half to cruise to the victory. Boston used a whopping 54-point advantage from behind the arc to improve to 25-9 in decisive seventh games.
The Bucks are now 3-9. They went 4 for 33 (12.1%) from the 3-point line. That’s the second-worst 3-point percentage in a playoff game ever (minimum 30 attempts).
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 25 points, 20 rebounds and nine assists. But he was just 3 of 11 in the paint in the second half, including 1 for 6 the fourth quarter. Jrue Holiday added 21 points and eight assists. Brook Lopez finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Williams finished 7 for 18 behind the arc as the Celtics finished the comeback after dropping Game 5 at home to fall into a 3-2 hole.
Boston started the second half on an 11-4 run to open a 59-47 lead.
It was 63-53 when Tatum went to the bench after being whistled for his fourth foul. But the Celtics rallied without him, outscoring the Bucks 16-11 the rest of the quarter to take a 79-64 lead to the fourth.
The Bucks led the entire first quarter as Antetokounmpo scored or assisted on 24 of Milwaukee’s 26 first-quarter points.
He ended the period with 10 points, eight rebounds and six assists to help the Bucks grab a 26-20 lead.
Boston began to claw back in the second quarter, drawing a third foul on Bobby Portis at the 8:49 mark. TV cameras showed him tossing his goggles as he went to the bench area. He’d been wearing the goggles since suffering a right eye abrasion in Game 2 of Milwaukee’s first-round series against the Bulls.
With Portis on the bench, the Celtics took their first lead of the game on a dunk by Al Horford that punctuated a 12-2 run.
Boston led 45-43 in the final minute of the half when Tatum was called for an offensive foul on Grayson Allen – Tatum’s third foul of the game.
Following an unsuccessful challenge by Celtics coach Ime Udoka, the teams exchanged misses. But after Smart’s steal near midcourt, Antetokounmpo fouled Smart as he attempted a last-second, 3-point heave.
Smart connected on each of his three free throws to give Boston the 48-43 halftime lead.
Celtics center Robert Williams III was available to play after missing three straight games with soreness and a bone bruise in his surgically repaired left knee. But he didn’t play.
Bucks: There was a pregame moment of silence held for the victims of mass shootings this past week in Milwaukee and Buffalo. … F Khris Middleton missed his 10th straight playoff game with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee. … Milwaukee missed their final 11 3-point attempts of the first half.
Celtics: Were 9 of 22 from the 3-point line in the first half. … Patriots team owner Robert Kraft sat courtside, along with Patriots quarterback Mac Jones and receiver Kendrick Bourne.
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