The Boston Celtics were without guard Marcus Smart as they faced the Miami Heat in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Finals series but it did not seem to hurt them too much.
Smart, the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year, rolled his ankle in the 109-103 loss to the Heat and had to be carried to the locker room.
He ended up returning to the court and finished the game but remained sidelined with Boston trailing 3-1 in the series.
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The Celtics were boosted by the return of Robert Williams though, with the center fit to play after missing Game 3 due to knee swelling and soreness.
Miami had its own injury concerns, with Tyler Herro ruled out of Game 4 due to a strained left groin.
It was a blow for the Heat as Herro had averaged 3.5 points and 4.1 rebounds during the playoffs.
1ST QUARTER – CELTICS 29 HEAT 11
Miami heated up in the first quarter of Game 3, scoring 39 points but it was the exact opposite on Tuesday.
The Heat came out ice-cold, scoring just 11 points – the least first-quarter points in franchise playoff history – after shooting 3-for-20 (15.8 per cent) from the floor.
Jayson Tatum outscored Miami with 12 points while Derrick White was an unlikely hero with 10.
White had just three points in the first two games of the series but exploded with Boston’s first seven of Game 4 as Miami went 0-for-7 from the field in the opening four minutes.
Bam Adebayo eventually broke the drought for Miami with a free throw in the fourth minute, although Boston responded immediately as Williams slammed home an Al Horford lob pass.
Miami’s shooting woes did not get any better, missing all eight field-goal attempts after five minutes as Boston coach Ime Udoka called a timeout with his side up 12-1.
That timeout did nothing to halt Boston’s momentum, with Miami’s offence failing to fire as Tatum erupted for six points in the space of one minute, including a ferocious dunk.
Victor Oladipo eventually drained a 3-pointer to score Miami’s first field goal of the game with just over three minutes remaining.
Up until that point, the Heat had gone 0-for-14 from the field, missing Herro’s energy and ability to come in and create his own shots.
It was the longest drought without a field goal to start any playoff game over the last 25 years, per ESPN Stats & Info.
The Heat almost looked destined for another unwanted piece of history, going close to scoring the least first-quarter points in the NBA Playoffs.
The Celtics (seven points) will still hold that record after a few Oladipo free throws and a Jimmy Butler bucket lifted Miami to 11 points at the end of the quarter.
2ND QUARTER – CELTICS 57 HEAT 33
Oladipo was one of the only bright spots early for the Heat and continued that in the second quarter, scoring their first six points.
At that stage, the Heat had got it back to 34-18, with Oladipo having scored 13 of Miami’s points.
Tatum though was in a mood, scoring four points in 40 seconds before assisting a Jaylen Brown layup to put Boston back up 40-21 after a Caleb Martin 3-pointer.
Tatum was in complete control as the Celtics extended their lead to 48-23, adding four more points and then an assist for a White 3-pointer.
“It is shocking and disappointing,” Mark Jackson said in the second half of ESPN’s coverage.
“The Miami Heat thrive on out-working you and competing on a different level. When they don’t bring that type of energy, they get beaten by it. “
Tatum ended the half with 24 points, seven rebounds and three assists while Oladipo (18) was the only Heat player with more than six points.
Boston was able to get to the free throw line 26 times (making 21) in the first half compared to just nine (six made) for Miami.
PJ Tucker, Max Strus and Gabe Vincent had combined to shoot 0-for-13 from the floor.
“I’m at a loss for words. What is going on in this series? ” Mike Breen asked, referencing blowout periods that had defined the Boston-Miami series.
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