/How it happened: Celtics demolish Bucks, 109-81, to advance to Eastern Conference finals – The Boston Globe

How it happened: Celtics demolish Bucks, 109-81, to advance to Eastern Conference finals – The Boston Globe


Jayson Tatum added 23 points while shooting 5-of-9 from 3, and Jaylen Brown scored 19 while shooting 8-of-16 from the field.

Giannis Antetokounmpo score 25 points to lead the Bucks, but got little help from his bench.

The Celtics will face the Miami Heat in a seven-game series that opens Tuesday in Miami. Jimmy Butler, Bam Abedayo and Co. beat Boston in six games in the Orlando bubble in September 2020, after the season was postponed for months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Play-by-play | Box score


Click here to refresh | Sign up for Court Sense, our Celtics newsletter | More Celtics stories

Why Jaylen Brown thinks this group can take on Miami — 7:31 p.m.

“This is the group that I feel like is poised enough to get it done.”

“I think that we are prepared, I think that we’re ready to take that next step. We just got to go out and take it. I know Miami is a team that’s waiting for us.”

Jaylen Brown: ‘Call him Grant Curry now.’ — 7:28 p.m.

Jaylen Brown said after the game that if he had been told Grant Williams would be the leading scorer, “I would have called you a liar, that’s for sure.”

“Call him Grant Curry now,” he joked.

What Jayson Tatum said after the game — 7:24 p.m.

On having to watch from the bench after getting four fouls:

“Tonight was an extreme team effort. I couldn’t be prouder of the way we responded and we played to get this win.”

“That was huge, the way they played together, moved the ball … extended the lead … extremely happy and excited watching the guys from the bench.”

On Grant Williams’s big night:

“Grant played great tonight … he took more shots than anyone on the team … I told him don’t get used to that.”

Deuce Tatum joins Dad at his postgame press conference — 7:21 p.m.

Grant Williams feels a little banged up — 7:05 p.m.

Williams was asked if he feels a little bit sore after being tasked with guarding Giannis Antetokounmpo for seven games.

Williams said he think everyone is sore at this point in the season, but that he’s feeling a little rough.

Grant Williams is going to stop calling himself Batman — 6:59 p.m.

Tough break for the Game 7 hero — he said until the nickname catches on within the locker room, he’ll stop calling himself “Batman.”

What Grant thinks about his record night — 6:57 p.m.

Grant Williams suggested Charlotte — his shared hometown with Steph Curry — was one of the reasons he broke Curry’s Game 7 three-point attempt record

“I felt like that’s just pretty cool to be happy about. But I’ve got to forget about it tomorrow and get ready for the Heat.”

‘Everybody talks about how loud it is in here and I never heard it until tonight’ — 6:45 p.m.

Here’s a few key things Ime Udoka said in his postgame press conference.

On a tough run to the Eastern Conference finals:

A sweep against Brooklyn and a hard-fought seven-game series will only benefit us.”

On the close losses in this series:

“We were pissed off, no doubt. The group shared that as a whole, [they] understood we had some close losses and close wins but weren’t playing our best.”

“Let’s have a full game, not a half, not three quarters.”

On when Udoka was ready to turn his attention to Miami:

Udoka said that as a head coach, he never hears the noise in the arena — unlike when he was an assistant, when he’d spend more time looking around at the crowd.

“Everybody talks about how loud it is in here and I never heard it until tonight.”

Udoka said he kept telling his players to close out, and didn’t lift his foot off the gas until Mike Budenholzer subbed out his starters with two minutes to play.

What Ime Udoka said to Grant Williams: ‘Let it fly’ — 6:37 p.m.

“I told him to let it fly. They’re disrespecting you more tonight than earlier in the series, and that was the plan on him and other guys.”

“You saw it on the first one he made and he missed a few and got a little hesitant. I told him to shoot the ball. What else can you do?”

Grant Williams made history — 6:30 p.m.

Grant Williams attempted 18 three-pointers in the Celtics’ win over the Bucks on Sunday.

It was the most three-point attempts by a player in a Game 7 in NBA history. He broke a record set by Steph Curry.

Watch: Tatum, Giannis embrace postgame — 6:26 p.m.

The two stars shared a moment after the Celtics beat the Bucks.

Adam Himmelsbach’s observations — 6:25 p.m.

By Adam Himmelsbach

Grant Williams led all scorers with 27 points.Adam Glanzman/Getty

After six games of a tense, taut series that will likely leave a mark on both teams, the Celtics turned Game 7 of these conference semifinals against the Bucks into a party.

Launching one 3-pointer after another at one end and wearing down Milwaukee star Giannis Antetokounmpo at the other, the Celtics roared to a 109-81 win at TD Garden Sunday and will face the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals. Game 1 is in Miami on Tuesday.

The Heat will have homecourt advantage in that series, but Milwaukee’s decision on the final day of the regular season that it did not matter for this one proved faulty, as a riled, rowdy crowd pushed Boston throughout this rout.

Grant Williams had a career game for the Celtics, drilling seven 3-pointers and scoring 27 points. Jayson Tatum added 23, but the most important segment of the game occurred with him on the bench after picking up his fourth foul with 7:44 left in the third quarter. Rather than crumble, Boston added five points to its lead over the rest of the period, and Milwaukee never had a chance again.

Get Court Sense

Bounce around the NBA with our Celtics-centric look at the latest happenings on and off the court.

Enter Email

Sign Up

The Celtics connected on 22 of 55 3-pointers, both NBA records for a Game 7, while Milwaukee was just 4 for 33.

Read Himmelsbach’s observations from Game 7.

Here’s the Eastern Conference finals schedule — 6:15 p.m.

By Amin Touri

After scraping past the Bucks in a back-and-forth, seven-game thriller in the second round, the Celtics are moving on to face the top seeded Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, in a rematch from 2020′s matchup in the Orlando bubble.

Miami finished 53-29 this season, the best mark in the East, to clinch home-court advantage through the Eastern Conference playoffs; the Celtics won two of three against the Heat in the regular season.

Here’s the full schedule as the Celtics try to reach the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010.

Game 1: Celtics at Heat

Tuesday, May 17, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Game 2: Celtics at Heat

Thursday, May 19, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Game 3: Heat at Celtics

Saturday, May 21, 8:30 p.m., ABC

Game 4: Heat at Celtics

Monday, May 23, 8:30 p.m., ABC

Game 5: Celtics at Heat

Wednesday, May 25 , 8:30 p.m., ESPN*

Game 6: Heat at Celtics

Friday, May 27, 8:30 p.m., ESPN*

Game 7: Celtics at Heat

Sunday, May 29, 8:30 p.m., ESPN*

(* if necessary)

Celtics win — 6:09 p.m.

What a game.

The Celtics have a 24-point lead — 6:03 p.m.

Grant Williams now has 27 (!) points.

Giannis is running out of gas — 6:00 p.m.

You can tell the big man just doesn’t have the energy anymore.

Scoring update: 5:18, fourth quarter — 5:57 p.m.

Celtics 97, Bucks 75.

Celtics up by 21 — 5:53 p.m.

With 5:38 left in the game, the Celtics have their biggest lead yet.

But shame on the fans making an early exit!

Pritchard is lighting it up from 3 — 5:52 p.m.

That’s back-to-back threes, and he’s got 12 points.

Tatum gets the M-V-P treatment — 5:48 p.m.

He’s at the line shooting two (he made just the first) and the Celtics are up 20 with 9:02 to play.

The Celtics have a 19-point lead — 5:44 p.m.

Boston has its largest lead of the game with 9:35 to play in the fourth quarter.

After Payton Pritchard sunk his second three of the night on an assist from Jayson Tatum, Budenholzer called a timeout.

Grant Williams making some weird history — 5:41 p.m.

He’s got 16 attempts now.

Tatum is back on the floor for the fourth quarter — 5:40 p.m.

He’s got four fouls.

End of third quarter: Celtics 79, Bucks 64 — 5:37 p.m.

The Celtics have three players in double figures.

Grant Williams is having a game — 5:33 p.m.

He’s the Celtics’ leading scorer with 22 points.

He’s shooting 6-15 from 3, and 8-18 from the field.

Celtics take their largest lead of the night — 5:30 p.m.

Grant Williams swishes a three, and the Celtics are up 76-60 with 2:03 to play.

You can’t have a conversation with the person next to you, it’s so loud. The crowd is eating up every Celtics basket and rejoicing in every Bucks mistake.

This bodes well — 5:29 p.m.

Call is overturned — 5:25 p.m.

After a lengthy delay, the Bucks got bailed out when the refs overturned an offensive foul call on Giannis Antetokounmpo.

It’s 68-55, Celtics, with 5:05 to play in the third.

Giannis might pick up his third foul, but Bud is challenging — 5:22 p.m.

Things aren’t going so great for the Bucks. Jrue Holiday is on the bench with four fouls, and now Antetokounmpo could have his third. Bobby Portis also has three.

The Celtics have pushed their lead to 13 — 5:21 p.m.

But Marcus Smart just picked up his third foul.

Not great for Milwaukee — 5:20 p.m.

That’s four fouls on Jayson — 5:16 p.m.

Jayson Tatum picked up his fourth personal foul with 7:44 remaining. Officials reviewed it for a possible flagrant, but the call was not escalated. The Celtics are up 10, so they’ll need to weather the next stretch without their best offensive player.

Scoring update: 7:44, third quarter — 5:14 p.m.

Celtics 63, Bucks 53

Watch: Jayson to Jaylen for a big and-one — 5:12 p.m.

Celtics go up by 12 — 5:06 p.m.

The Celtics came out firing in the second half, knocking down 4 of their first 5 field goal attempts, including three three-pointers, to extend their lead to 12. Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer had to call a timeout.

The second half is underway — 5:03 p.m.

Jaylen Brown starts things off with a three. 50-43 Cs.

Three stats to know — 4:53 p.m.

▪ The Celtics have nine turnovers to the Bucks’ 7. The difference here is the Bucks have scored 13 points off the Celtics’ mistakes, while the Celtics (eight points) haven’t capitalized as much.

▪ The Celtics are 9-22 from three. The Bucks? A measly 3-19.

▪ The Bucks are crushing it in the paint, scoring 24 of their 43 points from there. The Celtics, as we mentioned, are relying on their range. They’ve scored just 14 points in the paint.

At the half: Celtics 48, Bucks 43 — 4:48 p.m.

The Celtics go into the half with a five-point lead because Marcus Smart managed to steal the ball from Giannis Antetokounmpo, who then made the poor decision to foul Smart on a deep half-court heave.

Second foul on Antetokounmpo — 4:47 p.m.

Marcus Smart shoots three, and makes them both.

Challenge is unsuccessful; Tatum has 3 fouls — 4:45 p.m.

Jayson Tatum picked up his third personal foul with 33.3 seconds to go in the first half. Ime Udoka burned his challenge but was unsuccessful. The first half is a little early to use the coach’s challenge, especially in a Game 7, but the payoff could have been an And-1 for Tatum.

Udoka is challenging an offensive foul on Tatum — 4:44 p.m.

The referees are reviewing to see if Tatum should get called for an offensive foul on Allen. Tatum appeared to hit Allen in the face with his elbow.

Giannis already has a double-double — 4:43 p.m.

Giannis Antetokounmpo already has a double-double, with 17 points and 12 rebounds, and will probably get a triple-double, with 7 assists. But, as they have all series, the Bucks need help from players not named Giannis to contribute. Center Brook Lopez is doing his part, shooting 5 of 8 from the field for 11 points. Can anyone else step up?

Fans aren’t happy with the Tatum foul call — 4:40 p.m.

He only has two, and Wesley Matthews missed the first free throw anyway.

But the fans here at TD Garden were chanting some inappropriate words.

Bucks can’t hit 3s right now — 4:36 p.m.

The Bucks had said all series their three-point shooting needs to improve, but they still aren’t having much success from range. Almost through the first half, Milwaukee is just 3 of 17.

Bucks 39, Celtics 38, 3:39 Q2

Brook Lopez is having a big impact — 4:34 p.m.

Scoring update: 6:03, second quarter — 4:29 p.m.

Bucks 37, Celtics 32 — as you can see, that lead was short-lived.

Grant Williams stops at nothing — 4:27 p.m.

Watch: Al Horford’s dunk gives Celtics the lead — 4:25 p.m.

An Al Horford dunk with 8:19 remaining in the second quarter gives the Celtics their first lead of the game since 3-0 in the first.

Grayson Allen has been quite bad — 4:20 p.m.

He just shot an airball, and the crowd ate it up.

On the ensuing possession, Payton Pritchard dished the ball to Al Horford, who slammed it in to give the Celtics an 32-30 lead. There is 8:19 in the second quarter.

An and-one for Tatum ties it up — 4:19 p.m.

The Celtics haven’t led since around 10:15 in the first quarter.

He missed the free throw, though. It’s 30-30 at 8:41 in the second quarter.

Scoring update: 10:00, second quarter — 4:16 p.m.

Bucks 28, Celtics 25

What we’re watching after the first quarter —4:11 p.m.

The Celtics shot an abysmal 29.2 percent from the field in the first quarter, so they should feel somewhat pleased they are only down six. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were a combined 5 of 10 from the field, but the other Celtics connected on just 2 of their 14 attempts. Derrick White, who has provided some reliable secondary scoring in Games 1-6, is 0 of 5.

First quarter stat check — 4:10 p.m.

Celtics

Tatum: 7 points, 2-for-4 from the field, 2-for-2 from 3

Brown: 7 points, 3-for-6 from the field, 1-for-2 from 3

The Celtics have just six points from players other than Tatum or Brown.

Bucks

Antetokounmpo: 10 points, 3-for-6 from the field, 1-for-2 from 3

End of first quarter — 4:09 p.m.

The Celtics are down, 26-20, with three quarters to play.

Payton Pritchard wakes up the crowd — 4:06 p.m.

You could feel the energy start to shift … downward … with the Celtics down by 10. But Payton Pritchard hit his first shot of the game to put the Celtics within eight as the first quarter winds down.

Scoring update: 2:10, first quarter — 4:03 p.m.

Bucks 24, Celtics 14.

Paul Pierce pumps the crowd up — 4:00 p.m.

Celtics are once again reliant on the 3 — 3:57 p.m.

The Celtics are once again starting the game with most of their offense coming from behind the arc. Four of Boston’s five made baskets have been three-pointers. The total could be even more, as Grant Williams had two additional wide-open looks but couldn’t knock them down.

Scoring update: 4:49, first quarter — 3:56 p.m.

Bucks 17, Celtics 14.

The Celtics gave up the lead less than two minutes in and haven’t regained it.

First substitution: Derrick White for Grant — 3:53 p.m.

The first timeout of the game was called by Ime Udoka after Brook Lopez drained a three to give the Bucks a 13-6 lead. Udoka then made his first substitution: inserting Derrick White for Grant Williams.

Nobody gets louder cheers than Robert Kraft — 3:52 p.m.

No, seriously — the crowd got louder for him than Mac Jones.

Jayson Tatum just hit his first 3 — 3:48 p.m.

Boston is down, 13-6, but the crowd loved it. Plus, the Celtics really needed that.

Scoring update: 9:10, first quarter — 3:45 p.m.

Bucks 6, Celtics 3.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is headed to the line after a foul called on Al Horford, and Celtics fans are not happy about it.

And we’re off — 3:42 p.m.

60 minutes to go.

Grant Williams opens up scoring with a 3.

Starting lineups — 3:40 p.m.

Mike Budenholzer is keeping Grayson Allen in the starting lineup, even though his performance has been far from ideal through six games. Allen gave the Bucks a much-needed spark against the Bulls after Khris Middleton went down, but he has been a major defensive liability against Boston and provided minimal offensive contributions.

Bucks: Matthews, Antetokounmpo, Lopez, Allen, Holiday

Celtics: Tatum, G. Williams, Horford, Brown, Smart

Paul Pierce is in the house — 3:33 p.m.

A cheer rang out when fans realized who it was.

The Celtics great was clearly watching on Friday.

“Let’s Go Celtics!” chants echo — 3:27 p.m.

It’s hard to hear the PA over the loud “Let’s Go Celtics!” chants at TD Garden. We’re still at least 10 minutes from tip.

Patriots in the house: Mac Jones, Kendrick Bourne — 3:25 p.m.

Patriots quarterback Mac Jones and receiver Kendrick Bourne have been spotted courtside with Robert Kraft and Wyc Grousbeck.

Deatrich Wise, a Patriots’ defensive end, is also here.

Boos fill the Garden as the Bucks take the floor — 3:18 p.m.

TD Garden is not quite full yet, but fans made their presence heard.

Scenes from TD Garden — 3:10 p.m.

A young Celtics fan watches warm-ups.Adam Glanzman/Getty

A Bucks fan is surrounded by Celtics promo towels.Adam Glanzman/Getty

Jrue Holiday warms up.Adam Glanzman/Getty

Adam Glanzman/Getty

Adam Glanzman/Getty

The Celtics can do this. They have earned our trust. — 3:00 p.m.

In the biggest game of their season, the Celtics had heart, poise, resolve, short memories, and absolutely no fear of the moment.

And now they have a Game 7.

Jayson Tatum and Giannis Antetokounmpo engaged in a duel reminiscent of 2008 LeBron James/Paul Pierce and 1988 Dominique Wilkins/Larry Bird, and it the Celtics’ ascending superstar who was left standing after their 108-95 victory Friday night in Game 6 of this already epic Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Read the rest of Chad Finn’s column here.

The Bucks didn’t go all out for the No. 2 seed. Look what happened. — 2:45 p.m.

By Adam Himmelsbach

The Bucks had a chance to lock up the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs by simply defeating the undermanned Cavaliers on the final day of the regular season. Instead, they sat their top players and took the loss, seeming to indicate that avoiding the Nets in the first round was more important than potentially having home-court advantage in the second.

Still, the decision was not totally the Bucks’. The Celtics had a game against the Grizzlies later in the day, and they could have punted it and stayed out of the No. 2 spot. Coach Ime Udoka knew how he felt about the situation but wanted to be certain that his players were on board, too. The response was swift and unanimous.

“It was a pretty short conversation,” Udoka said Saturday. “I think all of us agreed that we wanted to play our best basketball and not try to manipulate anything. [The Bucks] had a choice to play the last game, and we did against Memphis. They didn’t, and they gave up the home-court advantage.”

Read the rest of the story here.

Watch: Celtics post hype video ahead of Game 7 vs. Bucks — 2:40 p.m.

By Trevor Hass

day after the Bruins fell in Game 7 to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Celtics will try to lift the spirits of Boston sports fans when they face the Bucks in Game 7 on Sunday at TD Garden.

Keith Irizarry recaps a historic Game 6 on Friday night, with Jayson Tatum dropping 46 points and the Celtics pulling off a 13 point victory against the Milwaukee Bucks to force a final Game 7 back in Boston on Sunday.

Chances are most Celtics fans are already fired up, but just in case, the team posted a hype video.

Here’s a look:

The Celtics are 24-9 in Game 7s all-time, including 20-5 at home, and are currently five-point favorites. The matchup is set for 3:30 p.m. and will air on ABC.

The time is now for the Celtics’ foundational trio to define their legacy — 2:35 p.m.

By Gary Washburn

Marcus Smart erupts in celebration after teammate Jayson Tatum (background right, with Jaylen Brown) slammed home two second-quarter points on Friday.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

The one encouraging sign for the Celtics is that they are embracing this Game 7 situation with the Milwaukee Bucks. Of course, the alternative after their disheartening 110-107 loss in Game 5 on Wednesday was elimination if they lost two days later.

Jayson Tatum saved his best career playoff performance for the perfect time in a 108-95 win in Game 6 Friday night in Milwaukee, and Sunday’s finale in this best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series will be the latest of monumental playoff games played by the trio of Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Tatum.

This is the fourth Game 7 for that group, and they are 2-1 in the previous three. The Celtics played two Game 7s in 2018, Tatum’s rookie year, beating the Bucks in the first round before losing to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals.

They came back in the 2020 NBA Bubble to beat the Toronto Raptors before losing to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.

So the experience and desire are there, but these are legacy-defining games. This is a game that will determine the state of the Celtics franchise. They have had championship aspirations since drafting Brown and Tatum in consecutive years.

Read the rest of the story here.

Tonight’s giveaway: The energy is about to shift — 2:25 p.m.

Fans at TD Garden this afternoon will receive this Jaylen Brown towel.

Giannis will be ready for Game 7, but will his teammates be any help? — 2:20 p.m.

Giannis Antetokounmpo broke out into a huge smile when asked for his thoughts ahead of a pivotal Game 7 Sunday afternoon in Boston.

“Good old Game 7,” he said. “Beautiful.”

The Bucks and Celtics will go the distance in their Eastern Conference semifinals series, after Boston held on for a 108-95 victory in Game 6 Friday night at Fiserv Forum. For Antetokounmpo, there seems to be no nerves, no stress, and no frustration — at least outwardly — ahead of the winner-take-all contest.

“For me, I just got to go out there and play free,” he said. “Be fearless. Play free. We don’t owe nobody nothing.”

Read the rest of the story here.

The Celtics have arrived — 2:05 p.m.

Take a look at the gameday fits.

Robert Williams is available, but won’t start — 1:51 p.m.

“He’s available to play,” Ime Udoka said before the game. “He hasn’t done a whole lot of basketball activity in the last week, more so managing the pain. Structurally, he’s OK.”

Udoka said Williams won’t start. The Celtics will stick with their lineup from the last three games — Tatum, Brown, Smart, Horford, and Grant Williams.”

Udoka said he will use Robert Williams “if needed.”

“We aren’t relying on him to come back for Game 7 and save the day.”

Will Robert Williams play today? — 1:40 p.m.

The big question ahead of the game is if Celtics center Robert Williams will suit up for the Celtics in Game 7.

The team listed him as questionable yesterday.

Williams has missed the last three games in this series due to soreness in his left knee.

The countdown is on — 1:30 p.m.

Hello from TD Garden. Game 7 tips in two hours, and the energy is already up in here.


Nicole Yang can be reached at nicole.yang@globe.com. Katie McInerney can be reached at katie.mcinerney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @k8tmac.

Original Source