There will be no sweep in South Beach.
116-99 victory over the Miami Heat on Tuesday. The Heat and Force won Game 5 on Thursday in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Heat entered Tuesday’s game with a chance to finish the series 4-0 at home. They got off to a good start in the first half with runs of 18-5 and 20-11. But Boston reasserted its will after the break.
Boston saves series with dominant 3rd quarter
Trailing 61-52 in the third, the Celtics went on a 19-0 run over a 3:04 span to take the game away. They would not end the run with a 70-62 lead. After struggling to connect from deep all series, the Celtics found their stride in the third as they connected on 7 of 12 3-point attempts and outscored the Heat 38-23. They pressed on through the fourth to fend off any semblance of a Heat rally.
While the Celtics shot well from distance, they also found the elite defense that had been their trademark during the regular season and eluded them in the first three games of the series. They fueled a second-half rally with points off turnovers while limiting Miami from long range. They outscored the Heat 66-43 in the second half.
When it was over, Boston shot 51.2% from the field and 19 of 45 (42.2%) from long range. It entered Game 4 after connecting on 31 of 106 (29.2%) 3-pointers over the first three games of the series. It was the sixth-best (37.7%) 3-point shooting team in the NBA during the regular season.
Tatum’s big night
Jayson Tatum led Boston with 33 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 blocks and a steal. He scored 14 of his 33 in the third quarter and 25 total after halftime. He connected on 4 of 9 shots from beyond the arc. He is one of five Boston players to connect on three or more 3-pointers.
Grant Williams hit 4 of 6 from long range en route to 14 points. Marcus Smart (3 of 9), Derrick White (3 of 7) and Al Horford (3 of 6) also contributed to Boston’s 3-point barrage.
The Celtics won the forced turnover battle 15-10 and held an 8-2 advantage in blocked shots. They turned the defensive advantage into a free-flowing offense that repeatedly found good shots on the other end. They assisted on 28 of their 43 field goals.
The Celtics control the Heat offense
A Heat team held a 3-0 advantage thanks to its ball movement and long-range shooting, while getting just 18 assists while shooting 34-of-78 (43.6%) and 8-of-32 (25%) from 3-point range.
Jimmy Butler again paced the Miami effort with 29 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists. He shot 9 of 21 from the field and hit 1 of 4 3-point attempts. Caleb Martin continued his strong effort with 16 points on a 6-of-9 shooting night. Gabe Vincent scored 17 runs.
Bam Adebayo attempted just seven field goals while being limited to 10 points. Kevin Love returned to the starting lineup from a Game 3 leg injury, but played just 12 minutes, with 6 points and 4 rebounds. Martin and Love (2 each) are the only Heat players with more 3-pointers.
Boston still faces a daunting task. No team in NBA history has ever won a playoff series from a 3-0 deficit. After 150 previous teams failed to do so, the Celtics are looking to take the top spot. They’ll have Game 5 at home and another in Boston in Game 7 to boost their attempt at history.