Boston Celtics running a riot.
For the fourth time in as many games in the Eastern Conference finals, one team blitzed the other, and one of the strangest best-of-seven series in recent NBA memory is somehow headed back to Miami tied, 2-2.
The Miami Heat missed their first 14 shots on Monday night, scored the fewest points (one) through the first nine minutes of a playoff game this century, and could not recover in a 102-82 loss to the Boston Celtics.
Jayson Tatum Leading The Boston Celtics
Jayson Tatum led five Boston Celtics in double figures with 31 points, eight rebounds, and five assists.
It was a mirror image of Saturday’s Game 3, when the Heat led by 21 points by the end of the first quarter and as many as 26 points in the first half, only Miami never threatened to mount a comeback in Game 4.
Derrick White, starting in place of injured Celtics guard Marcus Smart (right ankle sprain), scored the game’s first seven points on Boston’s way to an 18-1 lead. White nearly outscored the Heat by himself — and Tatum actually did — in an opening quarter their team won, 29-11. Tatum, shaking off a sore shooting shoulder, scored 12 points in each of the first two quarters, and the Boston Celtics took a 57-33 lead into halftime.
The margin would have been worse were it not for Victor Oladipo, who scored 13 of Miami’s first 18 points and 18 of their first 28 — all off the bench — on 5-for-7 shooting (3-4 3P, 5-6 FT) through the game’s first 21+ minutes. Oladipo’s teammates totaled only 15 points on 18/25/33 shooting splits through two quarters.
Gone was Boston’s carelessness. Miami scored 33 points off the Boston Celtics’ 24 turnovers in Game 3. Boston limited those mistakes to just three in Monday’s first half. Absent was Bam Adebayo, who scored a Heat-high 31 points on Saturday. He had as many points (three) as turnovers in the opening 24 minutes of Game 4.
The return of All-Defensive center Robert Williams helped the Celtics lock up the paint, where the Heat made just 14 of their 45 attempts. Even without Smart, the Defensive Player of the Year, Boston owned that end of the floor. Scouting resulted in two early strips of Adebayo as he spun into post moves, and he disappeared. No one bit on Jimmy Butler’s up-fakes, and Miami’s two best players combined for 15 points.
Game 5 is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday in Miami. Stay tuned for anything.