BOSTON – The weird nature of the Eastern Conference final between Miami and Boston was ventured into even foreign lands in Game 4.
The Heat missed their first 14 shots, failing to score the first goal until 3:21 in the first quarter, and took a lead of at least 25 points in the first half for the second time in the series.
The Heat barely improved as the Celtics won 102-82 on Monday in Game 4 and drew 2-2. Game 5 is on Wednesday in Miami (20:30 ET, ESPN).
Back and forth, a model that was not always competitive followed: Miami won, Boston, Miami, Boston.
The four games had a 20-point lead, with Celtics opening a 26-4 lead in the first quarter and a 55-28 lead in the second quarter. Shortly after the start, this competition was over for all practical purposes.
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Jayson Tatum plays the 3rd game
Celtics All-Star Jayson Tatum admitted he had to be better in Game 4 after playing 14-14, 10 points and six rebounds in Game 3.
He delivered Tatum.
He scored 24 of 31 points in his game and 11 of 11 in the first half. His aggressive attack was fouled, and he went 12-14 in the first two quarters.
“Obviously I was ready to go back to playing, but I didn’t question myself,” Tatum said. “I know how to play basketball. How many points did I get aside, trying to get out and winning. That was the most important thing.”
Box score oddities
Boston was 43rd out of 16 (37.2%), 2-11 including Jaylen Brown, and 4-17 (23.5%) in 3rd (along with Derrick White and Tatum 1-9) in the first. half and yet the Celtics were 57-33 at the break.
The Heat indicated how badly he had behaved.
At the end of the first quarter, the only Heat player (Jimmy Butler) made a basket and Bam Adebayo (one point) was the only other Heat player to score in the first quarter.
Behind Butler, the other four Heat starters were 0-12 until Kyle Lowry and Adebayo made the cubes in the final 2:13 of the half. The two Heat players (PJ Tucker and Max Strus) did not score and neither of the Heat reached double points.
The Five Heat players totaled 18 points, the top five since the league had scored the fewest points in a playoff game in 1970-71, according to ESPN.
The Heat had a 4 and 20 in the opening shot in the paint shot.
Celtics won Game 4 on the field with less than 40% and less than 25% on 3 shots – which is not uncommon in a playoff game.
Miami was rotten with a 29.6% shot within a 3-point line. Victor Oladipo led the Heat with 233 points from the bench.
Robert Williams makes a difference
Robert Williams of the Boston center did not play the 3rd game due to a left knee injury, and Adebayo took advantage of his best and most effective game in the series.
Williams returned to Game 4 and blocked Adebayo, who had just nine points and six rebounds but only five shots in a passive performance.
Williams has a defensive versatility (the ability to protect the edge and defend away from the basket) to limit what Adebayo does. Williams had 12 points, nine rebounds, five rebounds on the board, and two blocks.
Free throw disagreement
In the last two games, the Celtics have beaten the Heat 66-28, including 36-14 in the 4th game.
That’s not a comment about the craft. The more aggressive team receives calls and free kick attempts. Miami must attack and commit fouls.
“When you shoot a lot of jump shots, which we used to do tonight, it’s hard to get to the free kick line,” Butler said. “I think we need to be a stronger team, getting into the paint, not shivering from contact and playing from the inside out. When we do that and we don’t shoot a lot of jumpers, we might be missing a bit.”
Celtics limit billing
Boston coach Ime Udoka lamented his team’s 24 balances, scoring 33 Heat points in Game 4.
“Taking care of the ball, that was pretty noticeable in the first half,” Udoka said. “In my opinion, we missed four losses, three in the first quarter. So it was great to take care of the ball, obviously to score in the middle of the court, instead of getting to the playoffs that helped them in the last game.”
In Game 4, the Celtics missed nine losses.