August 12, 2022

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6:25 PM ET Andrew LopezESPN BOSTON — Grant Williams had by no means taken greater...

BOSTON — Grant Williams had by no means taken greater than eight 3-pointers in a sport earlier than this collection. He’d by no means made greater than six. He’d by no means led the Boston Celtics in scoring. All of these issues modified Sunday within the NBA playoffs.

“Grant received us a playoff sport tonight,” Jayson Tatum mentioned. “A Recreation 7.”

Williams had a career-high 27 factors, whereas Tatum had 23 of his personal because the Celtics dominated the second half in a 109-81 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Backyard on Sunday.

Boston wanted to win Video games 6 and seven after blowing a 14-point fourth-quarter lead in Recreation 5 that allowed the Bucks to take a 3-2 lead. However after pulling away late in opposition to Milwaukee in Recreation 6, the Celtics used the 3-point shot to place distance between themselves and the Bucks in Recreation 7.

The Celtics hit a brand new playoff franchise document with 22 3-pointers, and Williams tied the NBA document for many 3s in a Recreation 7 with seven, tying him with Stephen Curry (twice) and Marcus Morris.

Williams’ earlier profession excessive for 3-point makes an attempt in a sport was 9 — which he set in Recreation 2 of this collection. He doubled that mark with 18 3-point makes an attempt in Recreation 7, breaking the NBA’s Recreation 7 document for makes an attempt, held by Curry.

And it earned him a brand new nickname within the course of, from Jaylen Brown.

“Name him Grant Curry now,” Brown mentioned.

The Bucks’ protection goals to guard the paint and pressure different groups to hit 3-pointers. In Recreation 7, the technique was to go away Williams open. Bucks heart Brook Lopez, who drew the Williams task early, left Williams on the wing to remove any drives that Brown and Tatum needed.

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“That is what they have been giving us,” Brown mentioned. “So we needed to hold making the cross, and he was vast open. We belief all our guys, and Grant is an efficient shooter. And he got here by way of.”

Williams hit his first 3-pointer to open the sport however missed 5 of his subsequent six makes an attempt. However his group and his coaches saved telling him that he wanted to shoot it if he was open.

“I instructed him let it fly,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka mentioned. “They’re disrespecting you extra tonight than they have been earlier within the collection. That was their plan on him and different guys, actually shifting and making them attempt to beat us. You noticed it on the primary one he made.

“I mainly mentioned shoot the ball. What else are you able to do? Cease driving into the group. Shoot the shot that they’re providing you with.”

After passing up a couple of open photographs within the second quarter, their phrases began to stay.

“It is powerful to get into your head when your complete group, like 15 folks, stroll as much as you and say hold taking pictures,” Williams mentioned. “It was identical to, they’re encouraging it so it was like, would possibly as nicely benefit from every one.”

Williams did not enter the NBA as a 3-point shooter. Actually, he made solely 15 3s throughout his last season at Tennessee and solely 30 in his profession as a Volunteer.

He shot 25% as a rookie from Three however improved that to 37.2% final season. This yr, he upped each his quantity and his proportion as he nailed 41.1% whereas taking pictures 3.Four per sport.

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However in opposition to the Bucks, Williams had struggled since his Recreation 2 efficiency, going simply 2-of-14 from deep in his previous 4 video games.

That is why Milwaukee determined to go away him open in Recreation 7. Sadly for the Bucks, that technique backfired.

“He got here up huge,” Tatum mentioned. “He performed superb. Within the playoffs, you want that. You want guys coming off the bench to be a star of their function.”

Boston completed the sport taking pictures 22-of-54 from 3-point vary, whereas the Bucks struggled mightily, going simply 4-of-32.

In accordance with ESPN Stats & Data analysis, that is the biggest 3-point differential in a Recreation 7 in NBA historical past and tied for the biggest 3-point differential in any playoff sport (Golden State had 21 to Oklahoma Metropolis’s Three in Recreation 6 of the 2016 Western Convention finals).

For the collection, Boston made 110 3-pointers — third most in a playoff collection all time — to simply 57 for Milwaukee. That is additionally the biggest 3-point differential in a collection between two groups in NBA historical past, in accordance with ESPN Stats & Data.

Regardless of the 3-point taking pictures, Williams might need outwardly proven essentially the most emotion of the evening on a defensive play within the fourth quarter with the sport virtually in hand.

With Boston up 94-73 halfway by way of the ultimate interval, Milwaukee’s Bobby Portis bought the ball within the open courtroom and the one impediment between him and the rim was Williams. Portis went up for a dunk, and Williams swatted it away.

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Williams rotated and pumped his fist on the crowd because the TD Backyard erupted.

“After I bought the block, I used to be simply tremendous excited and actually, actually pumped,” Williams mentioned. “As a result of through the years of your profession, you may have moments the place it goes the opposite manner and you will have ones the place you get the block.”

Sunday’s win additionally marked the primary time the Celtics had overcome a 3-2 deficit to win a collection because the 1988 Jap Convention semifinals in opposition to the Atlanta Hawks. That yr, the Celtics dropped the Jap Convention finals to the Detroit Pistons, a destiny they want to change this yr.

That is Boston’s fourth journey to the Jap Convention finals up to now six seasons. The earlier three — together with 2020 within the Orlando, Florida, bubble in opposition to the Miami Heat — have resulted in defeat.

Brown was on the earlier three groups, and he is aware of the arduous work is not over.

“We nonetheless bought an extended journey forward,” Brown mentioned. “No matter you gotta do to get your thoughts proper, your physique proper, get able to go. No excuses.”

Recreation 1 of the Jap Convention finals is Tuesday in Miami. Whether or not Williams makes an attempt 18 3s once more should not be up for debate. Earlier than he went on to reward Williams, Tatum had a message for the third-year ahead from Tennessee.

“I instructed him do not get used to that,” Tatum mentioned.

What Boston can get used to, nonetheless, is extra playoff basketball.