Boston Celtics Keep Eastern Conference Finals Hopes Alive with Convincing Win over Miami Heat in Game 4
The Boston Celtics have managed to keep their Eastern Conference Finals hopes alive with a convincing win over the Miami Heat in Game 4. The Celtics dominated the Heat, outscoring them in every quarter and taking an 18-point lead into the fourth quarter. Miami's attempted comeback was short-lived, and head coach Erik Spoelstra pulled his starters midway through the period. The Celtics hit 18 of their 45 3-pointers, shooting 40% from beyond the arc, after struggling with their shooting in the previous three games.
The Heat still hold a commanding 3-1 series lead, but the Celtics have a real chance to make history with a comeback. They have yet to win three straight games in these playoffs, and the last time they won four straight was before the All-Star break. However, the Celtics showed in Game 4 that they are not going to roll over, and with the Denver Nuggets already in the Finals, the Heat are looking to do the same as quickly as possible to get some much needed rest before the best-of-7 championship series.
The Heat will be without starting point guard Gabe Vincent in Game 5 due to a left ankle sprain, which tests an already thin backcourt for Miami. Both Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo have been sidelined with injuries earlier in the playoffs, and Vincent's absence leaves the Heat with Kyle Lowry and Max Strus at the guard positions, with Caleb Martin and Duncan Robinson as hybrid guard/forwards.
Boston's guard minutes will be devoted entirely to Marcus Smart and Derrick White, as Malcolm Brogdon is still dealing with a forearm injury and is expected to be limited in his contribution to the Celtics. Smart has a history of jacking up shots in big games, so the added opportunity Brogdon's injury provides should see Smart put up numbers in Game 5.
The Celtics have been eight-point favorites in Game 5, and even if Boston wins, Miami should put up a good fight. The Heat still have a major advantage in this series, and after the Nuggets pulled off the sweep against the Lakers, Miami wants to end this series as quick as possible to get some time off. The team will be hoping for a better scoring performance out of Bam Adebayo and Max Strus, who combined for just 19 points in Game 4, and they need to improve their 3-point shooting after struggling in Game 4.
Jayson Tatum will be key for the Celtics in Game 5, having stepped up to help save the season with 33 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, two blocks and a steal in Game 4. To maintain their lead against the Heat, Tatum must deliver another extraordinary performance in Game 5, with the added benefit of playing on their home court.
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