Eastern Conference Finals

Boston 102 Miami 82: Tatum Helps Celtics Batter Butler And The Heat

Boston Celtics level the Eastern Conference FInals at 2-2 after a 102-82 victory over the Miami Heat on Tuesday night

Jayson Tatum (Photo: ChinaImages / IMAGINECHINA LIMITED / depositphotos.com)
Jayson Tatum (Photo: ChinaImages / IMAGINECHINA LIMITED / depositphotos.com)

Worst Shooting Start In 25 Years

Game 4 was decided in the first five or six minutes of the first quarter. Miami Heat started with 0-14 shooting to leave the number one seed with an uphill battle at the TD Garden. It was the worst shooting start by an NBA team in the NBA Playoffs in 25 years. With two minutes to go in the second quarter, Kyle Lowry, Max Straus, PJ Tucker were 0-11, with Bam Adebayor contributing a point from the free-throw line and Jimmy Butler with six points from eight attempted shots. Victor Oladipo was their leading goal-scorer from the bench to highlight just how inept Erik Spolestra’s starting IV had been shooting the ball. It was remarkably poor from a Miami side that put up 43 points in the first quarter in Game 3. It was a long road back into Game 4 and it wasn’t a surprise that Spolestra’s side left themselves with too much to do despite a fourth-quarter rally from their bench players to reduce the deficit to 20 points.

Tatum responds

Jayson Tatum (Photo: ChinaImages / IMAGINECHINA LIMITED / depositphotos.com)

Jayson Tatum (Photo: ChinaImages / IMAGINECHINA LIMITED / depositphotos.com)

Jayson Tatum struggled badly in Game 3 as the All-Star finished with 10 points in Boston’s 109-103 defeat by the Heat. He responded in Game 4 with a strong showing that put the hosts in control of a crucial game for The Celtics. Tatum finished the first half with 24 of Boston’s 57 points, with six field goals, 12 free throws and eight rebounds in an All-Star performance. The 24-year-old was able to take his foot off the pedal in the second half and added a further seven points to his haul as Ime Udoka had the luxury of resting Tatum following their dominant start.

“Age Is Just A Number”

Al Horford brought a sense of calm to the Boston team as 35-year-old stepped up to produce a spectacular defensive display for Udoka in Game 4. The No42 defied his age with his sheer athleticism, finishing with 13 rebounds and 4 blocks to prove dominant on the defense end of the game. We’ve seen some of his shooting ability in the post-season but Horford was particularly impressive in smothering the Heat’s offense to ensure the number one seed couldn’t get going in Game 4. The Puerto Rican had five points and contributed three assists but his leadership in the absence of Marcus Smart can’t be quantified.

Oladipo Offers Hope

While little went right for the Heat in the first half, Victor Oladipo was a bright spark for an otherwise underwhelming Miami team. The former Indiana Pacer has been blighted by injury over the past couple of years and Oladipo had only played eight games for Miami in the regular season before the NBA Playoffs started. Miami’s starters struggled badly but Oladipo brought some energy and composure to the Heat that was badly missing. The Miami No4 continues to play himself back into form as Oladipo continues his rehabilitation from surgery. He hit 23 points in 30 minutes of action, sinking four of his attempted seven three-pointers and creating four assists.

Where Does This Leave The Series?

Jimmy Butler (Photo: headlinephotos / Marty Jean-Louis / depositphotos.com)

Jimmy Butler (Photo: headlinephotos / Marty Jean-Louis / depositphotos.com)

The Eastern Conference Finals has been a story of runs in quarters and halves so far. There hasn’t been a really close game – yet. Miami pulled away in Game 1 thanks to an impressive third quarter, Boston made a dominant start in Game 2, the Heat eased into a commanding lead in Game 3 despite the Celtics threatening to come back in Q3 before the 17-time NBA champions had a sizable lead throughout Game 4 so it was never a contest. While Boston’s beatdown of Miami may leave some scars, both teams have already responded in this series from a massive setback. You could envisage Butler and company responding in Game 5 at the ATX Arena. As a neutral, a close-fought game with the lead swapping hands regularly would be a welcome change on Wednesday night.

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