NBA Playoffs: Celtics back in business after emphatic win over Heat
Boston, Massachusetts - The Boston Celtics smothered the Miami Heat all night on the way to a 102-82 victory in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
With the win, the Celtics evened the series at 2-2, and are yet to lose back-to-back games this postseason.
It all started on the defensive end for Boston, playing in front of their raucous home fans, as the Heat missed their first 14 field goal attempts.
The Celtics led 29-11 at quarter time – after leading 26-4 at one stage – marking the fewest first-quarter points ever scored by a Heat team in the playoffs. They shot three-for-20 from the field.
Victor Oladipo tried to ignite the Heat off the bench, scoring 18 of their first 28 points, but it was a historically bad showing from Miami's starting line-up, made even worse by the fact Sixth Man of the Year Tyler Herro was out injured.
With three minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Heat trailed 73-42, leading to their starters getting benched for the final frame. Their five starters combined to score 18 points and shoot seven-for-38 (18%) from the field.
Celtics' big-man combo does the trick
Jayson Tatum was terrific for Boston, scoring 24 of his 31 points in the first half, finishing up with shooting figures of eight-of-16 from the field and 14-of-16 from the free throw line.
The big-man combination of Al Horford and Robert Williams III was also game-changing, as the duo teamed up for 22 rebounds and six blocks, while Derrick White also shined in his first game since becoming a father.
White missed Game 3 for the birth of his child, and after scoring no more than nine points since Game 4 of the Celtics series against the Milwaukee Bucks, he had 10 points in the first quarter as he started in the place of the injured Marcus Smart.
The 27-year-old shooting guard went on to finish with 13 points, eight rebounds, six assists, three steals, and a blocked shot.
Game 5 will head back to Miami with plenty on the line. Throughout NBA history, when a series has been tied 2-2, the winner of Game 5 goes on to win the series 82% of the time – although the Celtics bucked that trend last round.
Cover photo: USA TODAY Sports