Boston Celtics

May 15, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics guard Payton Pritchard (11) looks to pass the ball off as he drives on Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) during the second quarter of game seven of the second round of the 2022 NBA playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics punched their ticket to the Eastern Conference Finals with a decisive 109-81 Game 7 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday afternoon at TD Garden.

Grant Williams proved the unlikely hero, nailing seven three-pointers for a total of 27 points. Jayson Tatum battled foul trouble to finish with 23. Jaylen Brown scored 19 and Marcus Smart dished out ten assists, while Payton Pritchard played a key second half role with 14 points.

The defending NBA champs were hindered by hideous shooting (4-of-33) from downtown throughout the contest and completely ran out of gas in the second half. Giannis Antetokounmpo posted 25 points, 20 rebounds and five assists for Milwaukee. Jrue Holiday tallied 21 points and eight assists.

While the suspense had drained from the building in the fourth quarter, there was a point when Boston broadcaster Cedric Maxwell described the game as a “rock fight.” But the Celtics opened things up, starting the third with a flurry and pushing their lead to a dozen as Jaylen Brown scored seven points in the first two minutes.

With Jayson Tatum whistled for a second offensive foul and his fourth overall, his teammates not only maintained their lead, but expanded it, reaching the quarter pole with a 79-64 advantage.

The Celtics had a 12-2 second quarter run to take a 32-30 lead. After some back-and-forth, Boston climbed ahead by five (48-43) at the break – despite a Bucks advantage shooting the ball, on the glass, and in the turnover department. Jayson Tatum had 17 at the half for Boston.

Milwaukee closed the first quarter with a 26-20 advantage as Boston clanged away at 29 percent (7-of-24) from the field. Antetokounmpo tallied 10 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the opening 12 minutes.

Khris Middleton (MCL sprain) missed Game 7 and therefore the entire series for the Bucks. Rob Williams was available for Celtics coach Ime Udoka, but did not check into the contest.

The C’s head to Miami for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals Tuesday night. Tipoff is 8:30, with pregame coverage starting at 8:00 pm on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

Sean Sylver can be heard on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Talk hoops with him on Twitter @TheSylverFox.