Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Celtics 116, Heat 99: Jayson Tatum scores 33 in Game 4 to stave off elimination [MIA leads series, 3-1]

The Celtics live to fight another day following a 116-99 win over the Miami Heat Tuesday night in Game 4 and avoid being swept from the Eastern Conference Finals.

Jayson Tatum bounced back from an embarrassing performance in Game 3, to lead all scorers with 33 points on 14-of-22 from the field, including 4-of-9 from deep to go along with 11 rebounds and seven assists. Jaylen Brown had 17 points, four assists and Derrick White added 16 points on 5-of-10 from the floor.
"Tonight we played with pace, purpose," Tatum said in his postgame presser. "We were getting stops. We were getting out in transition. You see layups and free throws go in, the jump shots start to feel a lot easier."
Grant Williams was 4-of-6 from 3-point range to finish with 14 points off the bench, while Al Horford was 3-of-6 from behind the arc to record 12 points and Marcus Smart chipped in 11 points, six assists to help save the Celtics season and force a Game 5 back in Boston -- despite still trailing the series 3-1.
"We can't relax," C's coach Joe Mazzulla said. "We have to keep the same level of intensity, the same mindset, the same focus in the next game."
Jimmy Butler had 29 points, nine rebounds and five assists, while Gabe Vincent -- who rolled his ankle in the fourth quarter -- netted 17 points and Caleb Martin contributed with 16 points off the bench for Miami, who were 6-0 at home this postseason coming into Game 4.

The Celtics trailed 56-50 at the break before using a 18-0 run to open the second half to take a lead for good -- shooting 6-of-7 during a three minute stretch, including hitting 4-of-4 from 3.

The Heat got within four late in the third quarter, but the Celtics responded with seven unanswered point in 40 seconds to win the period 38-23 (seven made 3-pointers) and take a 88-79 advantage into the final frame.

With Boston ahead 107-89 (their largest margin of the series), Heat coach Erik Spoelstra pulled his starters with 1:32 left to play.
"They got us tonight," Spoelstra said during his postgame comments. "You have to give them credit for that. There's no doubt about it. There's no questioning it. We're not wondering about that. They deserved to win tonight. We have to regroup and get ready for a great opportunity in Boston."
The Celtics outscored Miami 66-43 in the final two quarters to keep their NBA Finals hopes alive. While no team in 150 tries has come back from a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-7 series, Mazzulla knows what's at stake.
"We don't really have a choice," Mazzulla said. "It's do-or-die. Got to stick together."
Game 5 is scheduled for Thursday night at TD Garden, with an 8:30 ET tip-off on TNT.  

Game Notes:

Boston hit 51.2% from the field, including 18-of-45 (40%) from long-distance, while the Heat were 43.8% from the floor and 8-of-32 (25%) from 3. The Celtics were out-rebounded 44-39 and outscored 46-40 in the paint. The C's dished out 28 assists (10 turnovers) on 43 baskets to the Heat's 18 dimes (16 turnovers) on 34 made shots.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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