The Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat battled it out in Orlando for Game 4 but a slow first half from Jayson Tatum and a sloppy performance protecting the ball hurt them and in the end they came up short.
It was a tight first quarter as both teams fought back and forth to try and gain the edge. The Miami Heat came out on fire with 11 points from Tyler Herro going six-for-eight and six points from Jimmy Butler. Meanwhile, Jayson Tatum started the game cold missing each of his first eight shots from the field and adding three turnovers to the box score. The first half was the worst Tatum has looked this entire playoff run but his team was there to pick him up, especially Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown.
Walker and Brown were the best performers for the Celtics in the first half as they ended with 12 and 10 points respectively, trailing the Heat 50-44. Tatum continued his struggles from the first into the second ending the half with no points and missing all 10 shots from the field and turning the ball over three times.
With Tatum not putting points on the board he had to get in the box score another way with seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks. However, it wasn’t just Tatum who had trouble holding on to the ball as the Celtics combined for 11 turnovers in the half and continues to be their plague in this series.
The Heat kept the pressure up in the second quarter and even though the Celtics struggled to get anything sustainable on the offensive end they only trailed by six at halftime. Butler, Herro and Bam Adebayo were able to gash the Celtics top tier defense, and each found themselves in double-digits.
The third quarter didn’t start the way they would’ve hoped when the Heat opened the quarter extending their lead to 12. However, Gordon Hayward and Tatum found their games halfway through the third and were able to cut the lead to three. As the quarter went on the Celtics took better care of the ball only adding one turnover and with 16 points from Tatum, they were able to climb back into the game. However, the Heat didn’t quit when the going got tough and they continued to shoot. Herro was their savior when Butler was on the bench and the Celtics stormed back at the end of the third and into the fourth.
The Celtics and Tatum found their offensive game after halftime and early on in the fourth eventually taking the lead 85-84, their first lead since the game was 25-24 in the first quarter.
The Heat stayed in the game and didn’t get discouraged. Herro was outstanding for them in the fourth scoring 17 and 37 in total. He was a nails from the 3-point line shooting 50 percent, but he wasn’t the only thing that got in the Celtics way in the fourth.
After doing a great job in the third protecting the ball they got sloppy once again with seven turnovers. Even with Tatum coming out hot and ending the game with 28 points the Celtics could still not squeak away from this one with a win.
Now it’s win or go home for the C’s as they go down 3-1 in the series. If they want to keep playing in the bubble for the NBA Championship, they’ll need to cut the turnovers out of their game. The Celtics play Game 5 Friday at 8:30 p.m.
Photo courtesy of Nathaniel S. Butler.