Celtics vs. Heat result, takeaways: Boston rebounds, blew out Miami in Game 4 to even East Finals


Celtics vs. Heat result, takeaways: Boston rebounds, blew out Miami in Game 4 to even East Finals

The Eastern Conference Finals is now a tie after the Boston Celtics dominated the Miami Heat in Game 4 and clinched a 102-82 win on Monday night. It was never really close, as Boston capitalized on Miami’s gunfights to take a commanding 24-point lead at halftime and never looked back from there. Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 31 points, eight rebounds and five assists, but it was truly a team effort as four of Boston’s five starters scored in double digits.

Victor Oladipo shouldered the points load for the Heat as he finished with 23 points. The Heat struggled all night to put something on offense and as a result they will now return to Miami with the series tied at two games apiece. Game 5 takes place in Miami on Wednesday as both sides look to gain an advantage in a back-and-forth battle.

Here are three takeaways from Boston’s overwhelming victory over Miami in Game 4.

1. Bounce back night for Tatum

Tatum finished Game 3 with just 10 points in 40 minutes of action. The Heat defended him incredibly well in this competition, shooting just 21.4 percent from the field and hitting 1-of-7 from 3-point territory. His underperforming goalscoring was one of the main reasons the Celtics lost that game, despite Jaylen Brown being sent off for 40 points. So it was obvious that Tatum would try to start early in Game 4 to avoid repeating his previous performance.

Fast forward to Monday night and Tatum surpassed his score from the previous game with two minutes remaining in the first quarter. Not only did he make the easy shots — something he struggled with in Game 3 — but he also put down some incredibly difficult looks despite Miami’s defense being draped all over him. On several occasions he drove to the rim and twisted his body just enough to avoid potential blocks from Bam Adebayo and finish strong on the rim. He was still struggling to get things going from long range, but he was enjoying what the Heat was giving him at the edge and from mid-range. It’s exactly the kind of performance the Celtics needed from Tatum after a disappointing performance in Game 3, and his aggressive play from start to finish helped his team even get back to that series before hitting the streets again.

2. A historically poor offensive night for the Heat

Miami started Game 4 missing the first 14 straight shots, falling 17 points in the process. A three-pointer from Oladipo at 3:22 in the first quarter ended that losing streak, but by that point Boston had already established a 14-point lead and from that point the game really felt over. Miami could only make up a point in the first eight minutes of the game fewest points from a playoff team in the last 25 years of the league. To make matters worse, the 11 points Miami scored in the first quarter was the fewest in franchise history. The Heat finished the night shooting with just 33.3 percent from the field and 38.9 percent from 3-point territory, and as a result, that game was over with minutes left in the third quarter.

So yeah, you could say it’s been a tough day at the office for the heat. Those shootings only increased the importance of Tyler Herro on the team, who was sidelined for Game 4 with a groin injury. Herro’s ability to create his own shot while also creating scoring chances for his teammates is an integral part of Miami’s success and his absence was deafening on Monday night. Oladipo tried his best to fill that gap off the bench as he led all heat scorers with 23 points, but if Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry and Butler combined for just 18 points, Miami won’t win many games. That 18 points by the Heat starters was the fewest a team’s starting lineup had scored in a playoff game since the 1970-71 season. Tatum, on the other hand, scored more points (31) than all five Miami starters combined (18).

Although the Heat struggled hard in Game 4, it’s worth noting that Butler, Lowry, Gabe Vincent, Max Strus and PJ Tucker all showed up on the injury report, in addition to Herro, who went into that matchup. Butler was struggling with a knee infection and didn’t play in the second half of Game 3 as a result, so it’s unclear how much that affected his performance on Monday night. While every team remaining in the playoffs is grappling with a multitude of injuries, it was clear Monday night that some of Miami’s players were feeling the effects of this uninterrupted playoff schedule. We’ll have to see how the Heat react on their home floor in Game 5 because if they play like they did in Game 4, they should expect the same result again.

3. This series goes back and forth

The history of this series has been about which team can get on the track and sustain it. In Game 1, Miami outplayed Boston by 24 points in the third quarter, which was ultimately the deciding factor in this competition. In Game 2, the Celtics retaliated by beating the Heat by 25 points in the second half and keeping their foot on the gas in that win. Miami responded in Game 3 with a 39-point performance in the first quarter that helped make them a hard-fought game.

Boston’s Game 4 blowout continued the theme of the winning team taking a big lead, and when that series returns to Miami for Game 5 we’ll have to see if that trend continues. This is not how I expected this series to go given how impressive both teams can be on defense. So the thought of both teams getting those huge leads that made the difference in the game for the most part was really surprising. It feels like neither team has been able to maintain consistency from game to game, so that trend is likely to continue for the rest of this series. So if you’re the Heat, despite the poor performance in Game 4, given the seesaw nature of this series, you have to be happy about your chances of recovering.

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