The battle between the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA’s 2022 Eastern Conference semifinals series was nothing short of extraordinary. The defending champions fought valiantly, but a deeper, more athletic Celtics team ultimately won the day, punctuated by an epic Game 7 win in Bean Town. Now the Celts are headed back to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Taking down Giannis Antetokounmpo and the defending champs is no small feat, and this conference semifinal may very well go down as an instant classic after such a feat. Boston’s heart, talent, and determination were on display in a big way.
Let relive some of the most spectacular, jaw-dropping moments from the Celtics-Bucks 2022 playoff series.
Horford dunks all over Giannis:
Al Horford may be in his fifteenth year of service, but during the conference semi-finals, he looked like one of the young guns. His offense was extraordinary, but his defense against Antetokounmpo was particularly important for the Celtics. Boston likely does not advance without Horford’s size and finesse. He averaged 10.4 rebounds per game for the series, critically important against such a lengthy Bucks team.
Horford’s offense was also spectacular. He shot 38.9% from three en route to an efficient 13.0 points per contest. It was an unexpected and essential bit of production for the Celtics.
No play encapsulates Horford’s brilliance quite like his Game 4 dunk over Giannis Antetokounmpo. As one of the Greek Freak’s primary defenders, Horford was no stranger to the brutal physicality that comes with trying to slow Giannis down. At a certain point, though, Horford got the last laugh.
Jaylen Brown snatches Grayson Allen’s ankles:
Jaylen Brown was a man possessed early in Game 2. After dropping a disappointing opening tilt at TD Garden, the Celtics could not afford to lose another game. Brown was ready for the challenge.
Brown dropped 25 points in the first two quarters, and the rest of the Celtics seemed to feed off of his energy. Boston took a 65-40 lead into halftime and never looked back.
This play against Grayson Allen was particularly special. Brown is a little underrated as a ball handler, but here we’re all reminded of what he’s capable of one-on-one.
Jayson Tatum with the scoop:
Jayson Tatum was spectacular for most of the second-round of the playoffs following a blistering performance against the Nets. From elite defense to some absurd shot-making from three, Tatum looked like the top dog for much of the series.
As such, highlighting any one play from the former Duke Blue Devil is difficult. One play deserves a second glance, however.
Tatum averaged 6.2 free throw attempts per game during the regular season this year. As a rising superstar with impressive size, his growing instinct to attack the rim is key for the Celtics. Against the size and strength of the Bucks, this was easier said than done.
This play here shows Tatum willing to take the ball into the teeth of the defense. That is ends in such spectacular fashion is icing on the cake.
Payton Pritchard seals the deal:
Boston’s bench was a crucial factor against Milwaukee, and really the entire roster deserves credit. We’ll be taking about the timely heroics of Grant “Batman” Williams for a long time. Likewise, players like Derrick White and Daniel Theis served admirably, even if they never lit up the box score.
Payton Pritchard may have been the biggest surprise. Still an NBA sophomore, he struggled to really break into the rotation against either the Nets or the Bucks.
In Game 7, though, Pritchard was ready. His timely shooting wasn’t just a huge bonus for the C’s, but also led to an absolutely iconic postseason moment. This is what he does.
Marcus Smart takes the charge *
Boston posted a 99.7 defensive rating in the second round, by far the best number in the NBA. This Celtics team has always been and will always be about defense. (Keep in mind, the Bucks had the No. 3 offense in the NBA this season.)
Marcus Smart is the head of the defensive snake for Boston. His vocal leadership and play-making is well-documented, and he was a more than deserving Defensive Player of the Year in 2022. Against the Bucks, it was Smart’s toughness that proved most memorable. Here’s just one example.
This post originally appeared on Celtics Wire. Follow us on Facebook!
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