Another NBA playoff game, another blowout. This time, the Miami Heat got scorched by the Boston Celtics 102-82 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals, as Boston evened the series at 2-2.
Jayson Tatum from the Boston Celtics powers his way to the basket against the Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler at TD Garden. (Image: Paul Rutherford/USA Today Sports)
The final score and 20-point margin of victory made this game seem a lot more competitive. The Celtics dominated the Heat from the opening tip in Game 4. The Heat dug themselves a huge hole and didn’t score a single bucket until almost nine minutes into the game. The Celtics jumped out to an 18-1 lead, and the Heat could only muster up 11 points in the first quarter. The lackadaisical Heat never recovered, and most of the second half was essentially garbage time.
The series returns to Miami for Game 5 where the Heat opened as +1.5 home dog.
The Celtics are favorites to win the series and clinch the Eastern Conference title at -165 odds, whereas the Heat are +145 underdogs. With the victory in Game 4, the Celtics improved to +240 odds to win the 2022 NBA Championship. The Heat are +500 odds to win the title.
Celtics: Tatum bounce’s back
Jayson Tatum had one of his worst performances of the season with just 10 points in Game 3’s loss. Although he struggled from 3-point range with a 1-for-7 clip, he shot 7-for-9 from inside the arc and hit 14 free throws to finish with a game-high 31 points. Tatum scored 24 points in the first half. At the time, the Heat scored just 33 points through the first two quarters with their starters accounting for just 12 points.
“Obviously, we knew how important this game was,” said Tatum. “Everybody just had to come up with a different sense of urgency.”
Derrick White started in place of Marcus Smart, who missed Game 4 with a gnarly sprained ankle. White added 13 points, eight rebounds, six assists, and three steals in 41 minutes.
Even without Smart, the Celtics bounced back once again after losing for the fifth time this postseason. Overall, the Celtics are 5-0 in the 2022 playoffs following a loss. The Eastern Conference finals followed a zig-zag pattern, with the Heat winning Game 1 and 3, and the Celtics winning Game 2 and 4.
“Just got to muster that same energy when we came off a win as well as a loss,” said head coach Ime Udoka. “This is a three-game series now. Can’t always just flip the mindset when we come off a loss and get a little desperate.”
Ugly Heat: starters combine for 18 points
The Heat missed shot after shot at the start of the first quarter and the next thing they knew, the Celtics built up a 17-point lead during an 18-1 run to start the game. The Heat’s only point in the first eight-plus minutes of the first quarter came from a free throw.
“They came out and jumped us,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. “We’re not making any excuses. They outplayed us tonight for sure. We never could get any kind of grip on the game.”
The Heat were down 24 points at halftime after scoring just 33 points in the first half, with the starters combining for 12 points.
The Heat’s reserves tallied 64 points in Game 4, while the starters combined for just 18 points while shooting 10% combined from 3-point range.
According to ESPN, the 18 points from the Heat’s starters is the lowest total in NBA history since the league began tracking these types of playoff stats starting in 1971.
Starters PJ Tucker and Max Strus posted donuts with zero points each. Kyle Lowry scored three points. Jimmy Butler couldn’t buy a shot with a 3-for-14 clip and just six points. Bam Adebayo scored a disappointing nine points after dropping 31 points in a Game 3 victory. Then again, Adebayo logged just 28 minutes because the starting five were benched early in the third quarter.
Victor Oladipo scored 23 points in 30 minutes off the bench. Little-used Duncan Robinson finally got some playing time and added 14 points, albeit in garbage time.
Check out more coverage of the 2022 NBA playoffs.