With all hope lost and all odds against them, the Boston Celtics showed up in the Kaseya Center and stole one in Miami last night by a score of 116-99. For the Celtics, Jayson Tatum led the way in scoring with 33 points, adding 11 rebounds and 7 assists on 63% shooting. Jimmy Butler would have 29-9-5 in a losing effort that saw his worst shooting performance of the series shooting 43% and only 1 of 4 from three.
The Celtics were on the brink of going home after falling 3-0 in the series heading into a win-or-go-home game in Miami. The Celtics not only lost both games in their home field before dropping another in Miami in game 4, but their performance in those games weren't exactly inspiring losses either. The Heat averaged 121 points in those games and were doing so with tremendous teamwork and most importantly, key involvement from their role players such as Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin and Max Strus. The Celtics were often considered the "deepest" team in the playoffs with a roster that was easily 8 people deep, however it took until game 4 in this series for their bench to make a key impact, finally outscoring the Heat's bench for the first time this series.
The key factors for the Celtics HUGE game 4 win was defending shooters, second-half adjustments and Jason Taytum. Tatum has been the C's leading scorer all 4 games of this series, and continues his form with a sensational game last night with 33. Tatum has 50 more points than Jaylen Brown this series, the C's second-leading scorer.
The Celtics gritty, selfless defense was on full display last night with Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Grant Williams leading the way with impressive and tough performances all game. The Heat had their worst scoring game of the series by 12 points and while you can absolutely chalk it up to their shooters underperforming, much deserved credit should be given to the Celtics for locking down the Heat.
Lastly in the Celtics' favor, their second-half adjustments were undeniable. The C's went into halftime down 56-50 and would blow the game WIDE OPEN in the 3rd, outscoring the Heat 38-23. Obviously, credit deserves to be given to Joe Mazzula who not only helped motivate his team for their 3rd quarter as well as creating strategy to exploit his team's 3-point advantage. However, the true credit deserves to go to the player's determination and never-say-die attitude.
Down at halftime.
The Celtics had their best quarter of the year. They could have folded and choked and decided to head into the offseason early. But they will not say die.
This team has made a deep playoff exit 3 of the last 4 seasons and are on the ropes of doing just the same this year. However they will not lay down, they will fight with everything they have to extend this series.
The Celtics are back at home on Thursday for Game 5. Could the ruckus TD Garden spurn them to win another game in the series and shift momentum to their side? It's hard to say, but we do know no NBA team has ever comeback to win a playoff series down 3-0, a feet that was previously bested by an MLB team two decades ago in a ballpark only 3 miles away from the Garden.
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