3 things we learned from Game 4 of Monday's Heat-Celtics Eastern Conference Finals

The Boston Celtics defeated the Miami Heat 102-82 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Monday to level that streak 2-2 before returning to Miami for Game 5.

USA About: Celtics Publish: 05/24/2022 Edit: 05/24/2022 Author: Gardener

Game 4 of Monday'sIf you're trying to determine the winner of that series, or just the winner of a game in that series, you can also assign the Boston Celtics odd numbers and the Miami Heat even numbers, blindfold yourself, and roll a pair of dice. Heading into Game 4 on Monday, the Heat led that series 2-1 after beating the Celtics by six points in Game 3. However, they led by as much as 26 points, so maybe this really wasn't as close as many had imagined. The Celtics knew they had their backs to the wall and needed to play big compared to what happened in Game 3. In the first quarter of Game 4, the Celtics came out hot, beating the Heat by 18 points and holding onto just 11 points on a 3-20 shooting. Defensively, Boston were suspended for this game and as they continued to be stopped on defense their offense started to click. Even with Marcus Smart sidelined with an ankle injury, the Celtics were able to roll past Miami with one of their best defensive performances of the season to earn a 102-82 win in a game that saw them lead by as much as 32 points with 31 points in 8th -16 shooting saw Jayson Tatum look like his All-Star self after a poor 10-point performance in Game 3, finishing 32-38 from the free throw line. Boston shouldn't expect to hit that many free throws every night, but their aggressiveness paid off in large measure, and we should assume their game plan for Game 5 on offense in terms of attacking the basket from the touchline will be similar. With that series now tied 2-2, there is still virtually no separation between these two teams as they now face a "best-of-3" scenario with a trip to the NBA Finals at stake. Game 4 ended in a resounding win for the Boston Celtics, but here's what we learned from their win Monday night. For two very even teams, especially on defense, it's really shocking to see how much this series has tipped back and forth in terms of consistency. We really haven't seen a close game between these two teams and while Game 3 turned out to be the closest game in this series where the Heat only gained 6 points, this game still wasn't really close. Heading into Game 5, we could brace ourselves to see another blowout win by either side, but that probably won't be the case. Now that that series is at 2-2, both teams will feel a bit of pressure, especially since a Game 5 win puts them one win away from making the NBA Finals. So far in this series, the team that wins the first quarter has won three of the four games played, with Game 1 being the only exception. Coming out hot and starting strong has opened up those massive leads in this series, and if both sides can come out of the deep early in Game 5 on Wednesday, we could look forward to another overwhelming win. This series may only be 2-2, but if you break things down by quarters, the Celtics lead the run with 9-3 in quarters won, and the two teams have drawn in four different quarters throughout the series. Based on that, many would believe the Celtics are leading this streak and potentially taking the chance to end it in Game 5. They have to credit the Heat for the work they did in their two wins, just as Miami has outplayed Boston by 17 points overall in those two games, but ultimately this series is Boston's loser. Jimmy Butler aside, the rest of the Heat roster can be very inconsistent on the offensive end of the parquet, and while Bam Adebayo put on a stellar performance in Boston in Game 3, he really didn't show the rest of the series averaging just 8.3 points , 6.3 rebounds and shooting 9-15 (60%) from the floor in the other three games in this series. Not only did Bam Adebayo underperform, but Tyler Herro is struggling with a groin injury, Kyle Lowry still seems to be struggling a bit with a hamstring injury, and without these guys' performance, the Heat will have to rely on Jimmy Butler to pull it all together to do. The Heat are a great defensive team and it shouldn't come as a surprise that they're winning this series given that Game 5 and possibly Game 7 will be on their home field, but this is the Celtics' series to lose and they've proven it this with her playthrough of four games. For Miami to win two of their next three games and advance to the NBA Finals, not only do they need other guys outside of Jimmy Butler to step up, but they also need to remain aggressive on offense. Max Strus, Tyler Herro, Gabe Vincent, Kyle Lowry and a few others are capable of knocking down threesomes, but Boston wants Miami to shoot from deep. They've shot just 33.8% from three-point range this series, and when they take perimeter jumpers, the Celtics defense wins. With the two victories of the Heat in this series, what stands out above all is that they attacked the rim aggressively and were able to score in the color. The Heat used the pick and roll to their advantage and had a lot of success in the postseason, driving from screens to baskets and either converting layups or getting to the free throw line. In Games 1 and 3 of that series, the two games that won the Heat, they averaged 44.0 points in the suit and averaged 24.0 free throw attempts per game. In their two losses in Games 2 and 4, the Heat averaged just 35.0 points in the suit and averaged 18.0 free throw attempts per game. That's where the difference lies in this series for Miami, and if they can ramp up offensively in Game 5 and just take the open, high proof threes, they can go 3-2 in this series against Boston. It can't just be Jimmy Butler doing things offensively. All ball handlers and guards for Miami need to stand up and realize that aggressiveness on offense leads to wins for them.

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