Power forward Grant Williams was the unexpected figure for the Celtics with 27 points and forward Jayson Tatum added another 23.
Starting Tuesday, Boston will be able to settle outstanding accounts with miami heat of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, the team that eliminated them in the 2020 Eastern Finals at the “bubble” venue of Disney World.
That was the Celtics’ third failed attempt in four years to reach the NBA Finals, which they haven’t played since 2010.
On Sunday, the most spectacular tie of these playoffs had a much larger outcome than expected in favor of Boston.
The hosts took advantage of his spectacular effectiveness from the outside shot with 22 three-pointers made, the most in a seventh playoff game and in any Celtics postseason game.
The Bucks, who were able to resolve the series on Friday on their court, were shipwrecked from long distance with 4 triples of 33 attempts, as the culmination of a disastrous collective offensive performance.
Milwaukee paid dearly for All-Star shooting guard Khris Middleton, who missed the entire tie with a knee injury.
Second leading scorer on the team, Middleton was a decisive player in the championship won by the Bucks last year, which ended a half-century title drought for the franchise.
“They were the better team in the seven-game series. Give Boston credit,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “In the NBA you have to have good players, a little luck and health. You need these three things to win in the playoffs. We were not healthy but nobody is going to care.”
With the departure of the Bucks, the NBA will have a new champion for the fourth consecutive season, where the Miami Heat have a great chance, as the first favorite of the year (Phoenix Suns) was left out.
Antetokounmpo, for his part, was left without the coveted second ring despite his historic performance in these playoffs.
The Greek, twice MVP of the league, was the first player against the Celtics to reach at least 200 points, 100 rebounds and 50 assists in a playoff series.
“I’m proud of the guys, the effort they put in, we had chances to win,” Antetokounmpo said.
“Obviously if we had Khris, it probably would have been a different story but we didn’t,” he said. “But I don’t want to make excuses, we have to improve as a team.”
On Sunday, the Greek charged his team on his back in a memorable first quarter in which he scored or assisted in the Bucks’ first 22 points (10 points and 6 assists).
The Bucks resisted thanks to the offensive contribution of center Brook Lopez (15 points and 10 rebounds) but the disastrous performance of the Milwaukee shooters was beginning to be anticipated.
Between point guard Jrue Holiday and shooting guards Wesley Matthews, Grayson Allen and Pat Connaughton they didn’t make a single 3-pointer in 18 attempts.
On the other side, Tatum was still hot as in Wednesday’s game, when he had 46 points and made his first four three-pointers.
The Celtics accelerated around the locker room with secondary Grant Williams as an unexpected offensive weapon. The power forward, who had scored 2 points in the previous two games combined, exploited the spaces the Bucks gave him to make 7 triples and 27 points, both career records for him.
“I told him to keep going (shooting). I told him, ‘You’re being disrespected more tonight than you were at the beginning of the series,'” Celtics coach Ime Udoka later explained.
The power forward is the third player to make 7 triples in a seventh playoff game, joining Stephen Curry and Marcus Morris.
“Grant beat us in a playoff game today,” Tatum acknowledged. “In the playoffs you need guys who come off the bench to be stars in his role.”
“It’s a great feeling. Losing the fifth game was hard but I couldn’t be more proud of how we responded until we achieved this victory,” said the forward, who is asserting himself in these playoffs as a new superstar in the league.
With Giannis exhausted and helpless, the Bucks watched the Celtics take a 27-point lead in a fourth quarter that turned into a party for the 19,000 fans at TD Garden.
— EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS:
– Miami Heat (1) vs. Boston Celtics (2)
Tuesday, May 17: Heat vs. Celtics
Thursday, May 19: Heat vs. Celtics
Saturday May 21: Celtics vs. Heat
Monday, May 23: Celtics vs. Heat
Wednesday, May 25: Heat vs. Celtics (if necessary)
Friday May 27: Celtics vs Heat (if necessary)
Sunday May 29: Heat vs Celtics (if necessary)
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Celtics leave the NBA champion on the road