Williams’ Record-Setting Game 7 Lifts Celtics into ECF

On the five-year anniversary of Kelly Olynyk’s Round 2, Game 7 heroics against the Washington Wizards, another unexpected hero stepped up for the Boston Celtics in a do-or-die series finale.

With Boston’s season on the line, Grant Williams delivered the game of his life with a game-high 27-point performance, which vaulted the Celtics past the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks for a 109-81 Game 7 win, setting them up for an Eastern Conference Finals showdown with the Miami Heat.

Milwaukee dared Williams to shoot the ball all afternoon following his combined 0-for-3 effort from 3-point range in Games 5 and 6. And the third-year forward made them pay, as he tied an NBA Game 7 record with seven makes from beyond the arc, while also breaking Steph Curry’s Game 7 record for long-distance attempts with 18.

“I call him Grant Curry now,” said a smiling Jaylen Brown after the game.

Head coach Ime Udoka said that he spoke with Grant early on about Milwaukee’s loose coverage. “I told him, ‘Let him fly. They're disrespecting you more tonight than earlier in the series.’”

So he let it fly more than any other player on the roster. With 22 field-goal attempts, he took six more shots than Jaylen Brown and eight more than Jayson Tatum. He also attemtped twice as many 3-pointers as any other teammate, and his seven 3-point makes nearly doubled the team total for the Bucks, who shot just 4-of-33 from long-distance.

“I told him don’t get used to that,” Tatum joked of Williams’ unusually high volume of shots. “But obviously tonight we needed it. He came up big, played amazing, had 27 points, and in the playoffs, you need that. You need the guys coming off the bench to be a star in their role and Grant won us a playoff game tonight, a Game 7. I’m extremely happy for him.”

Williams was excited about the effort as well, but during the game, he was as calm as a cucumber – even while he was going through some early struggles. He made his first attempt on Boston’s very first offensive possession of the game before missing three in a row. However, he was able to maintain his composure and found his rhythm again before going off.

“I feel like your excitement gets the best of you sometimes,” Williams said. “The first one I shot was calm and quick, but the others felt kind of rushed. So as I settled in, I was kind of just able to knock them down – took my time on the shots and not really rush them. Even if guys were flying at me, still took my time and knocked them down.”

What a feat it was to knock down a record-tying number of triples, especially for a guy who famously missed the first 25 3-point attempts of his NBA career.

Williams has made incredible strides with his sharpshooting this season, and he’s been consistent throughout. He connected on 41.1 percent of his long-range attempts during the regular season, and has remained at 41.0 percent in the playoffs.

“It’s something that I knew that I’d have to add to my arsenal to expand and be consistent in this game and to play at this level,” Williams said of his growth as a shooter. “So it’s just a matter of the years that I spent and the shots that I’ve taken.”

Typically, it’s guys like Brown and Tatum who are taking most of those shots and carrying the bulk of the offensive burden, but in Game 7s, there often seems to be an unexpected hero that emerges.

Williams was that hero for the Celtics, as his record-breaking performance helped them soar back into the Eastern Conference Finals for the fourth time in six years.

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