The best-of-seven game series between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics has now become a best-of-three series.
Hoping to avoid what could have been their final home game of the season, Boston got 31 points from forward Jayson Tatum to get a convincing 102-82 win in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, tying the series at two win each.
“Obviously, we knew how important this game was,” Tatum said. “Everybody just had to come up with a different sense of urgency.”
Boston jumped out to a big 29-11 lead after the first quarter, aided by Miami missing its first 14 shot attempts. The Celtics had a 57-33 lead at the half thanks to 24 first half points from Tatum while Miami got 18 points from guard Victor Oladipo.
"They came out and jumped us," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We’re not making any excuses. They outplayed us tonight for sure. We never could get any kind of grip on the game.”
The Celtics continued to roll in the third quarter, leading by as many as 32 points and taking a 76-52 lead into the final quarter.
Miami's woes were summed up by Oladipo having 20 points through three quarters - which was more than the total points from the Heat's starting five, including zero points from forward P.J. Tucker and guard Max Strus.
The Heat cut into the deficit in the fourth quarter, getting baskets from bench players like Duncan Robinson, Dewayne Dedmon and Omer Yurtseven. Miami was without guard Tyler Herro, who missed the game with a groin injury.
Oladipo led Miami with 23 points while Robinson added 14 points. Heat starters Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo combined to shoot 6 for 19 from the field and had a total of 15 points.
“It’s a part of playoffs. You learn to adapt,” Adebayo said. “Guys being out, guys playing half, guys playing 20 minutes in the game, just depends. You’ve just got to find a way to win.”
Game 5 will be Wednesday night in Miami with Game 6 returning to Boston on Friday.
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