BOSTON (AP) — Grant Williams posted a career-high 27 points and hit seven 3-pointers, Jayson Tatum added 23 and the Boston Celtics posted a Game 7 record with 22 3-pointers to earn the NBA Champion Milwaukee to eliminate the Bucks by 109-81 Sunday in the semifinals of the Eastern Conference.
Boston meets top seeded Miami in a repeat of the 2020 East Finals starting Tuesday. The Heat beat the Celtics in six games of that series at Walt Disney World.
The Celtics trailed early but outplayed the Bucks 61-38 in the second half and drove to the win. Boston capitalized on a whopping 54-point advantage behind the arc to improve to 25-9 in the crucial seventh game.
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 (30 tries minimum).
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 25 points, 20 rebounds and nine assists. But he was only 3 of 11 in the second half in the paint, including 1 for 6 in the fourth quarter. Jrue Holiday added 21 points and eight assists. Brook Lopez finished the tournament with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Williams finished 7-18 behind the arc as the Celtics completed the comeback after losing 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 called for his fourth foul. But the Celtics rallied without him, outplaying the Bucks 16-11 the rest of the quarter to lead 79-64 in fourth place.
The Bucks led the entire first quarter as Antetokounmpo scored or assisted 24 of Milwaukee’s 26 first-quarter points.
He finished the period with 10 points, eight rebounds and six assists to help the Bucks take a 26-20 lead.
Boston began fighting back in the second quarter, pulling a third foul on Bobby Portis at 8:49. TV cameras showed him throwing away his glasses as he headed to the banking area. He’s worn the glasses since he suffered an abrasion to his right eye in Game 2 of Milwaukee’s first-round series against the Bulls.
With Portis on the bench, the Celtics took the lead for the first time with a dunk from Al Horford that punctuated a 12-2 run.
Boston was leading 45-43 in the last minute of the half when Tatum was called out for an offensive foul on Grayson Allen – Tatum’s third foul of the game.
After an unsuccessful tackle from Celtics coach Ime Udoka, the teams traded errors. But after Smart’s steal near midcourt, Antetokounmpo fouled Smart when he tried to make a last-second 3-point heve.
Smart connected on each of his three free throws to give Boston a 48-43 halftime lead.
Celtics center Robert Williams III was available after missing three straight games due to pain and a bruised bone in his surgically repaired left knee. But he didn’t play.
Bucks: There was a minute’s silence before the game for victims of mass shootings in Milwaukee and Buffalo last week. … F Khris Middleton missed his 10th straight playoff game with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee. …Milwaukee missed their last 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 on the sidelines, along with Patriots quarterback Mac Jones and receiver Kendrick Bourne.
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