The Boston Celtics playoff matchups with the Milwaukee Bucks have been cinema. The 2022 second-round series between the two rivals produced one of the best playoff series of the Jayson Tatum/Jaylen Brown era. The Celtics found themselves trailing multiple times in the series, and they capped off their comeback with an electrifying performance in Game 7 that was led by unsung hero Grant Williams.
We at the Houdini thought we would highlight the impressive performance from Williams and this iconic series that took place during a C’s NBA Finals run.
The Celtics ultimately won 109-81, and they knocked out the defending champion Bucks, who chose to be one seed lower than the Celtics to avoid the Brooklyn Nets in the first round. The Celtics got the last laugh as they swept the Nets and held homecourt against the Bucks in the crucial Game 7.
Some background heading into the game is that the Celtics needed to win Game 6 to force a Game 7. The Game 6 victory produced arguably the greatest performance of Jayson Tatum’s career. Given the circumstances and pressure he was under, Tatum’s 46-point performance in Game 6 was legendary, and it would have gone down as one of the greatest in NBA history had the Celtics won the title that year. Ultimately, it set the stage for a historic Game 7.
The Celtics got amazing production from their bench in Game 7, and they cruised to an easy victory. Although the Bucks were without Khris Middleton in this series, it was still an impressive accomplishment for the Celtics. Now let’s dive into the main categories of our rewatch series.
Biggest moment of the game: Payton Pritchard three straight plays to ice the game for the Celtics
Although Grant Williams was the unsung hero of the game, he did not have a true signature play. On the other hand, Payton Pritchard did have a huge three-play stretch that iced the game for the Celtics. Towards the middle of the fourth quarter, Pritchard had a stretch where he hit 3 three-pointers, and he had a nice assist to Marcus Smart for a three. This run from Pritchard helped put the Cs up by 23 points, and they never looked back.
The best play from Pritchard was a three-pointer that led to him pointing at the bench saying, “That’s what I do.” Pritchard also had a nice step-back three on Jrue Holiday, which is ironic considering they are now teammates.
Star of the game: Grant Williams
Grant Williams is the star of this game simply because his performance was one that nobody had on their bingo cards. Williams led all scorers with 27 points, and he shot a whopping 18 threes, making seven of them. Williams responded well after Ime Udoka inserted him into the starting lineup, and he delivered one of the greatest Game 7 performances by a role player in Celtics history.
The performance from Williams was reminiscent of Kelly Olynyk’s 26 points in Game 7 of the second round against the Washington Wizards in 2017. The performances were five years apart, which makes me wonder if we should pencil in another role-player Game 7 masterclass for 2027.
Winners of the game: Grant Williams/Jayson Tatum/Marcus Smart
Besides Grant Williams, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart were excellent in this game. Tatum finished with 23 points, eight assists, and six rebounds. The 2022 postseason was when Tatum started filling up the stat sheet and truly impacting the game as a two-way player.
Marcus Smart was also phenomenal in this game, despite his poor shooting. Smart checked every box on the stat sheet as he had 11 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds, one steal, and one block. This was the best postseason of Smart’s career, and this game embodies that.
Losers of the game: Milwaukee Bucks fans and Derrick White
Milwaukee Bucks fans are the losers of this game because they missed an opportunity to see their team repeat as champions. Also, the result of this game was poor for the Bucks, as the following year, they lost in the first round to the 8-seed Miami Heat. Derrick White is also a loser for the Celtics because he shot an abysmal 1/10 from the field and 1/6 from three.
Impact of the game
The impact of this game is that it ultimately led to the Celtics making a run to the NBA Finals. Although the Celtics would lose to the Golden State Warriors, making the Finals with Tatum and Brown at a young age was special.