The Eastern Conference NBA Finals had another blowout Monday night as the Boston Celtics evened the series at two games apiece with a 102-82 victory at home.
“Obviously, we knew how important this game was,” Tatum said. “Everybody just had to come up with a different sense of urgency.”
Jayson Tatum led the way with 31 points as the Celtics jumped out to an early 26-4 lead and never looked back. He had 24 of his 31 in the first half. He was a plus-37 overall, going to the free-throw line two more times than the Miami Heat as a whole.
“It’s an odd [series],” Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka said when asked about the multiple blowouts in the series so far. “Honestly.”
The Celtics are now 5-0 this postseason after a loss.
“Just got to muster that same energy when we came off a win as well as a loss,” Udoka added. “This is a three-game series now. Can’t always just flip the mindset when we come off a loss and get a little desperate.”
Miami’s started finished Tuesday night’s game with just 18 points on 6-of-36 shooting. That is the fewest points scored by a starting five in the playoffs since data tracking for this first started in 1971.
“They came out and jumped us,” Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We’re not making any excuses. They outplayed us tonight for sure. We never could get any kind of grip on the game.”
The Heat were without Tyler Herro due to a groin injury; the Celtics were without Marcus Smart.
“It’s a part of playoffs,” Heat big man Bam Adebayo said when asked about injuries. “You learn to adapt. Guys being out, guys playing half, guys playing 20 minutes in the game, just depends. You’ve just got to find a way to win.”
Miami finished with 64 bench points.
The most crucial stat this series seems to be turnovers, and how many Boston is committing. They finished Game 3 with 23 turnovers, but had just nine in Game 4. The Celtics are 10-2 in the playoffs this year when committing 15 or fewer turnovers; they are 0-3 when committing 16 or more.
“Spo is a coach that you have to be prepared for a lot of different things,” Udoka said of Coach Spoelstra and the Heat. “The first part is physicality, toughness. They’re not going to beat themselves; you have to go out there and take it.”
Despite the ups-and-downs this series on both sides, the fact still remains that the series has three games remaining, with two of them in Miami.
“We were disappointed in Game 3 with the way we came out with a chance to do something special at home. For us, consistency is a thing we’re all looking for,” Udoka said Wednesday morning, looking ahead towards Game 5. “And we talked about it, not getting caught off-guard when they up their physicality.”
Game 5 tips off at FTX Arena in Miami at 8:30 PM Eastern.