Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Celtics 102, Heat 88: Derrick White's 38 points fuels Boston in Game 4 victory [BOS leads series, 3-1]

Fueled by Derrick White's career-high 38-point performance, the Celtics secured a 3-1 series lead by defeating the Miami Heat 102-88 in Game 4 Monday night at Kaseya Center. 

Although the win was encouraging for Boston, the team awaits the status of Kristaps Porzingis, who suffered a calf injury in the first half.

Jayson Tatum added 20 points and 11 rebounds after struggling in the first 24 minutes, while Jaylen Brown scored 17 points in the victory. Jrue Holiday had a series-high 11 points and dished out six assists. White, who led the team in scoring, also added three blocks in the contest.
"Every game I kind had the same mindset of just trying to be aggressive and reading what the game is telling you. Not forcing anything and just doing what I need to do," said White in his postgame presser about the approach before his Game 4 offensive outburst. "I thought I got a couple of good looks early, and the team did a good job of finding me and empowering me to stay aggressive."
Bam Adebayo led the Heat with 25 points and 17 boards, while Tyler Herro paced Miami with 19 points and Caleb Martin chipped in 18 on 4-of-8 from 3-point territory.

Similar to the start in Game 2, neither team was able to pull away early, despite Boston's 7-3 start in the first. Led by Tyler Herro's quick seven points halfway through the quarter, the Heat kept up with Boston's offense, which wasn't running through their two stars. After a quiet start to the series, White caught fire quickly, increasing his scoring total to 13 points within the first seven minutes (16 points in the quarter), including scoring eight of those points in less than a minute -- contributing to a 16-2 scoring run late in the quarter, giving Boston a 10-point lead heading into the second.

Despite a four minute scoring drought, the Celtics' defense forced Miami into tough shots to sustain a double digit lead. Tatum's tough first half continued after suffering a series of turnovers, and fouling Highsmith on an and-one. White, who made back-to-back threes, extended Boston's lead to 16 with under four minutes to play in the period. While it was an impressive first half for the C's, all eyes were on Porzingis who exited with what appeared to be a calf injury -- as he lifted his jersey over his face in obvious pain.

A contested trey over Martin from Tatum with less than a minute left highlighted the end of the second, which resulted in 53-36 advantage at the break. Miami was held to 12 total points in the quarter.

With Porzingis' status as doubtful to return,  the Celtics would need a team effort to slow down Adebayo and find offense elsewhere in their front court. Brown answered the call early with five quick points, but Boston turned the ball over three times within the first four minutes of the second half, which contributed to their stagnant offense. However, like he did all game White took control in the third quarter, adding another 11 points to his total and finishing a series of contested posterizing dunks. 

Struggling to contribute offensively in the first half, Tatum stayed aggressive, scoring eight points in the third quarter, getting to the line and taking advantage of some mismatches. Combining their defense and White's elite offensive production, Boston headed into the final frame up 81-59.

Miami brought some intensity to start the fourth, going on a 14-5 run which helped them bring the deficit down to as little as 13 points. 

However, things got chippy between the two teams after Adebayo contested a Tatum shot attempt after the whistle was blown that awarded the Celtics some free throws after a flagrant 1 was assessed and a technical foul was called on Al Horford for bumping Adebayo after the play. Tatum was holding his left ankle, as he came down on Adebayo's foot but he remained in the game. White knocked down his eight three of the night (8-of-15) shortly after, and it was all but over for the Heat. 

With the expectation that Boston will be without their prized offseason pickup in Porzingis Wednesday night, the Celtics are approaching Game 5 similar to how they adjusted with numerous injuries earlier in the season. 
"Nothing changes. Bring in the same mindset, intentionality, toughness, details to the next game regardless of who's available. It doesn't matter," said head coach Joe Mazzulla. "There's no difference between the regular season and the playoffs, and all year we've had guys step in and play."
Boston hopes to close out the Heat in Game 5 Wednesday night in front of their home crowd. The game will be available on TNT and NBC Sports Boston at 7:30 pm ET.

Game Notes:

Boston held the Heat to nine 3-pointers on 27% shooting, while they made 38% of their treys on 14 3-pointers. The Celtics out-rebounded Miami 46-42, and finished with 21 assists compared to the home team's 17. 

Ian Carrano

Photo used courtesy of The Assciated Press

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