Celtics sloppy play results in 3-1 deficit in ECF

By Brenden Beauregard

After a solid game 3 win on Saturday night to climb back into the Eastern Conference Finals, did the Boston Celtics have a repeat of that performance up their sleeves for game 4 last night? The answer to that? Nope.

Inconsistent offense and sloppy overall play doomed the Celtics as they dropped game 4 to the Miami Heat 112-109. 

Boston had 19 turnovers that led to 17 Miami points. That’s more than a clean up on aisle five, that’s clean up in aisles five, six, and seven, folks.

Adding to that, last night saw up and down play from Boston’s top stars. Jayson Tatum was ice cold in the first half, going 0-6 before catching fire in the second half and ending with a team-high 28 points. Kemba Walker had a great start, dropping 9 points in the first quarter and ultimately finishing with a respectable 20 points, but he seemed to disappear during stretches of the game.

“I just don’t think we attacked enough,” Walker said after the game. “I don’t think we were aggressive enough.”

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Walker is right, Boston looked to chucking three-pointers to find a rhythm with almost half their shots being from beyond the arc and 35% of those shots going in. When Boston did perform well on offense, it was them driving the ball and either attacking the rim or kicking it out for a good three-point chance. That’s the sort of aggression Walker talked about that the Celtics need to bring more of come game 5.

On the opposite side, Miami was led by a 37 point bombardment on 66% shooting by rookie guard Tyler Herro, who transformed into the human torch and also had an unreal 156 offensive rating.

“Herro was ridiculously good tonight. The rim must have looked like the ocean to him,” Coach Stevens said when discussing the Miami guard’s performance. Ridiculously good is right, Brad.

Talking more about Herro, his 37 points rank third all-time in most points scored by a rookie with a 60% and higher shooting percentage in NBA playoff history. The people ahead of Herro? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson. Decent company one could say. 

This writer will not lie, it was tough to watch how game 4 unfolded for Boston, especially after how well the Celtics responded last game and also the additional good luck charm in Gordon Hayward’s son being born before last nights game. But instead of building off of those, Boston now finds its foundation almost completely reduced to rubble by Miami.

“We’re just looking at how we can play better Friday night,” Stevens said when discussing the team’s current mindset. “That’s the most important game of the season, and we have to play our best game yet.”

Stevens makes a good point. Friday night is Boston’s most important game of the season. The Celtics have faced plenty of adversity during these playoffs and rose up to the occasion when it knocked. Hopefully, Boston will answer the call by adjusting their offensive strategy and limiting turnovers and force a game 6. Otherwise, the Celtics stay in the bubble will end much sooner than they want it to, and without the championship title they covet.