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How Jayson Tatum upped his game

The 24-year-old Celtics All-Star makes his case for being the best player of the postseason. (Author: Gardener)

24-year-oldLess than 10 days ago, the Boston Celtics played their biggest game of the season and were eliminated away from the defending champions Milwaukee Bucks. It was a pivotal moment for the Eastern Conference's best young team, and Jayson Tatum played one of the best games of his life to extend the streak and salvage Boston's season. Tatum had 46 points, shooting and scoring more than twice as many as any of his teammates. He faced Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee and led his team to their biggest win of the season. The Celtics picked up a breezy Game 7 victory and reached the Eastern Conference Finals for the third time in five years, but this journey feels different. Tatum & company have already eliminated Kevin Durant and Antetokounmpo on back-to-back runs as Tatum has become the face of one of the toughest young teams in recent NBA history. At 24, Tatum is exactly what the Celtics need from him: an elite two-way star who fits perfectly into coach Ime Udoka's no-nonsense team-first concept. It didn't happen overnight, but Tatum has played some of the best baskets of his life since January, and his mid-season awakening is a big reason Boston is a real threat to go after the revamped Larry O'Brien Trophy next month to take home. Prior to January 1, Tatum was playing inefficient basketball and the Celtics were playing as a play-in team. And while New York's playoff hopes faded as the calendar swung to 2022, Boston went in exactly the opposite direction. As of January 1st, Tatum has been playing like a legitimate superstar, and the Celtics are arguably the best team in the NBA. Between January 1 and the end of the regular season, the Celtics possessed the league's best defensive rating and second-best offense, leading all teams with a massive net rating of plus 12.7. But make no mistake, in a league powered by superstars, Tatum's jump is the biggest reason the Celtics are built to last. Tatum was built to be a great goalscorer. As a prospect at Duke, Tatum's scoring was his forte. Get a quick look at Mike Schmitz' scouting report on him from June 2017, just before the Celtics drafted him No. 3 overall: The St. Louis native is the most polished goalscorer in the group, with superb footwork and excellent Touch 18 feet in and a mid-post/back-to-basket game that rivals some NBA veterans. Hard jab step pull-ups, rocker steps, side steps, turnarounds, dirk fallaways, fast spins, you name it, Tatum probably has it in his arsenal. Tatum should become a prolific goalscorer and five years into his career he is right on schedule. He finished seventh in the standings that season, and looking at his shooting chart, some key trends stand out. Just two years ago, Tatum was only making 51% of his paintshots, which is well below the league average. He made more than 57% of it that year, a mark above the league average. Yes, he ranked seventh in the NBA, but in the league he was ranked 25th in paint; In his prime he should be higher in this category. He may never be Durant, but only three players in the league have picked up more jumpers than Tatum this year. Looking at his numbers on these shots, it's clear he can improve his conversion rate both through the arc and in the midrange. Of 83 players who started at least 500 jumpers that year, Tatum ranked 61st in efficiency and scored just 0.99 points per shot, a mark that's actually below the league average of 1.01. If there's one difference between superstar scorers and legitimate MVP contenders in the NBA, it's that ability to make teammates perform better -- the ability to convert oversized defensive attention into shooting opportunities. Scoring has always been easy for Tatum, but making play hasn't been. Both after Kyrie Irving's departure and Kemba Walker's brief tenure, Boston's offense is more egalitarian than it has been in years. With Marcus Smart now the team's primary ball carrier, there are more opportunities for Tatum to get involved as a passer. In turn, Tatum's burgeoning playmaking has helped Smart's migration to the point guard position. In 2017-18, when Irving was in charge of Boston's ship, Tatum averaged just 3.1 potential assists per game. He averaged fewer than 30 passes per game during those Irving seasons, and the Celtics offense ran through Irving—when the ball got to Tatum, he tended to finish the game. Now Tatum is passing the ball nearly 50 times per contest, and he's also playing more pick-and-roll than ever in these playoffs. Still, Tatum ranks 15th for efficiency out of 18 players who played the ball in at least 200 picks this postseason, scoring just .90 points per chance on those games. Part of Tatum's improving playmaking has to do with Boston moving away from Irving and Walker, but part of it has to do with Tatum learning to drive an NBA offense and his ability to drive pick-and- Making roll the right game will be another cornerstone of its development. Between Brad Stevens' roster adjustments, Udoka's updated strategies at both ends, and Tatum's midseason awakening, this is Boston's best team in at least a decade. Here's the scariest part: The current formula looks sustainable for years to come. Tatum and the Celtics have a real shot at battling for multiple championships in the 2020s. The 2021-22 Celtics are the most trusted group Tatum has ever played with. After the Celtics swept Brooklyn out of the first round, Nets GM Sean Marks met reporters for a postmortem press conference. It was newsworthy in part because Marks said of Irving, “We're looking for guys who want to be bigger than themselves, play team basketball and be available. That's exactly the mantra - wanting people who want to be something bigger than themselves - has been a common saying for years and an important team-building concept in San Antonio, where both Marks and Udoka have spent time. It's clear that Marks felt Brooklyn was missing in that department - Udoka's group in Boston does The core group of the Celtics represents arguably the most cohesive group in the league. Their starting five consist of Tatum, Smart, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford and Robert Williams III was by far the league's best five-man group that year. In the 443 minutes the Celtics starters have been on the ground this season, they outperformed their opponents at 24.6 points per 100 possession. Among the 34 five-a-side lineups that played at least 200 minutes together this season, Boston's starting group ranked first in net ratio, first in defensive scoring, and eighth in offensive scoring. Not all superstar scorers are willing or able to play great defense, but again, Tatum shines in that regard. He's naturally endowed with the kind of size and physical ability that makes NBA scouts swoon, but it's his will to really excel on the lackluster end of the court that sets him apart from some of his superstar peers. And while this season got off to a rocky start, his ability to break out of his early-season funk and rediscover his ascending arc to superstar status is the main reason the Celtics are seven wins away from their 18th championship.

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Heat vs. Celtics odds, tips, predictions, betting on game 4 by experts on 34-16 roll

SportsLine's Zack Cimini has announced his 2022 NBA playoff picks for Game 4 of the Celtics vs. Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals (Author: Gardener)

SportsLineThe Boston Celtics host the Miami Heat for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals Monday night in the 2022 NBA Playoffs. Boston stole home field advantage with a Game 2 win in Miami, only for the Heat to regain that advantage with a Game 3 win on Saturday. Jayson Tatum (throat nerve) is listed as likely with the Celtics. J. Tucker (knee) and Gabe Vincent (hamstring) are listed as questionable for the heat. Caesars Sportsbook lists Boston as a 6.5-point home favorite while the over-under, or total number of points Vegas believes will be scored, is 208.5 in the latest heat vs. heat-picks, or NBA playoff predictions is. You need to see what SportsLine pundit Zack Cimini has to say. In the last 32 NBA picks, Cimini is 21-11 and has returned players nearly $900 to $100. He's also on an amazing 34-16-1 run with his last 51 against-the-spread picks involving the Celtics, returning players $1,548 to $100. Now Cimini has his sights set on Heat vs. Celtics and just got his tips and predictions for the NBA playoffs. You can now go to SportsLine to see his selection. Well, here are several NBA odds and betting lines for Celtics vs. * MIA: The Heat are 9-5 against the spread in playoff games * BOS: The Celtics are 9-5 against the spread in playoff games Miami leads the series and The Heat are playing exceptionally well in the 2022 NBA Playoffs. The Heat outperform their opponents in the postseason by nearly seven points per 100 possessions, including a 114.3 offensive rating. Miami secures 31 percent of misses on the offensive glass, resulting in 15.0 second chance points per game. While Butler has injury concerns going into Game 4, standout big man Bam Adebayo put on an explosive performance in Game 3, recording 31 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals against Boston. On the other hand, Miami was a top-five defensive team in the regular season, and the Heat are pretty stingy. Erik Spoelstra's team is yielding just 107.4 points per 100 possessions in the postseason, and the Heat are securing nearly 75 percent of available defensive rebounds on the defensive glass. Miami is averaging 15.9 turnovers per game, including 24 in Game 3, and the Heat are averaging 19.9 points per game without turnovers. The Heat led the NBA in points allowed in the color in the regular season, and they allow even fewer (38.0 per game) in the playoffs. Boston's offense is performing at an impressive level in the 2022 postseason. The Celtics are averaging 113.6 points per 100 possessions in three rounds, and that's more than 117 points per 100 possessions in the series against the Heat. Boston passes the ball well, assisting on 64.9 percent of field goals and averaging 24.8 assists per contest. The Celtics are also driving a 58.7 percent true-shoot mark in the playoffs, led by a 62.3 percent true-shoot mark in the series and a 40.6 percent 3-point shoot clip against Miami. Boston also secures nearly 30 percent of its misses in the series, and the Celtics remain elite on defense. Boston led the NBA in a myriad of defensive categories in 2021-22, including allowable field goal percentage, allowable 3-point percentage, allowable assists, and allowable points per possession. In the playoffs, Boston is averaging just 1.07 points per possession, with opponents averaging just 20.2 assists per game and just 32.7 percent of 3-point attempts against the Celtics. For Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Cimini leans toward total points, but also says a critical X-Factor makes one side of the spread a must. Celtics spread backwards at SportsLine. Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Heat vs. Celtics spread to jump to, all from the expert who wrecked his NBA picks and find out.

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Celtics and Bruins games are not the same without The Fours

Many sports bars, including the best in America, have never recovered from COVID (Author: Gardener)

BruinsBOSTON - As I walked down Canal Street on Saturday night, I thought of Bobby Orr. Well, a Bobby Orr. Not the legendary Bruins hockey player immortalized before me in a statue in front of Boston Garden. They should all be grilling on a grill about 20 meters from me. But The Fours is gone. The Bar and Grill at 166 Canal Street was once named America's Best Sports Bar by Sports Illustrated back when SI was America's #1 Sports Magazine. A combination of really good but unpretentious food and lots of TVs, barely 200 meters from the home of the Bruins and Celtics. While many sports bars feel like they're being yelled at from every direction, The Fours felt like a neighborhood Irish pub had become a sports bar over 44 years, one picture and one jersey at a time. The walls were a gallery of photos of every big moment from a Boston event in your life and jerseys and pennants from both legends and every local alma mater. It was obvious that college hockey's biggest events were happening across the street. If the New England Sports Museum weren't housed in the TD Garden, the Fours would have been entitled to that title. But for longtime patrons of the Gardens, new and old, it feels like something is missing. For those who have a ticket, Canal Street used to be a series of great places to visit before or after. The Boston Sports Grille is long gone. The Boston Beer Works permanently vacated spaces outside of the Garden and Fenway Park. The Fours closed their doors forever in August 2020. Only Hurricanes (who briefly became "Beat the Hurricanes") in the first round of the NHL playoffs) still carry the torch of what Canal Street once was. Every time I walk from Kenmore Square to the Fenway, I'm relieved that the Cask 'n Flagon didn't suffer a similar fate. Sporty bars and restaurants are part of what gives great sporting cities their character. Most people were still only interacting with restaurants through their food windows when Canal Street began to die and that time and sport had yet to resume. People came to Canal Street for the game day experience. With limited parking and one-way streets, few people ventured there for takeout. The annual huge infusion of playoff crowdfunding from both the Bruins and Celtics never happened in spring 2020 as both the NHL and NBA were first paused and then delayed. People didn't get a chance to say goodbye to old favourites. When COVID restrictions were lifted and fans were allowed back to attend sporting events, they returned to find windows blacked out, signs removed and nothing in their place. The main shield is gone. "Fours Boston" still stands around the image of a bean pot in the window of the still-vacant 166 Canal Street. The shirts, photos and memorabilia were all auctioned off. The bar stools, tables and kitchen appliances are elsewhere - including some in The Fours' Quincy and Norwell locations, both of which are beautiful but not the same - and the memories live on in all those people who move a little slower when they do pass by, what once was is missing.

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The Celtics know they can flick the switch, but they can't afford to switch off at this stage of the playoffs

While the Celtics haven't lost consecutive playoff games, they've lost focus when they think they've established their dominance. (Author: Gardener)

Ime Udoka (left) has to get his team into overdrive from the jump for every game at this point in the postseason. They need something to prove, or someone to prove them wrong, or an all-or-nothing scenario in order to play their best basketball. It's a dangerous game when you're about to play in the NBA Finals. That psychological tendency reared its ugly head in a painful, nagging, and profitable 109-103 loss to the Miami Heat on Saturday night at the TD Garden. In a fierce competition with more storylines, twists and dramatic returns than a prestige television series, the Celtics squandered their momentum with a no-show start after a dominant win in Miami. They were unable to capitalize on the absence of Heat star Jimmy Butler, who sat out the second half with a right knee irritation, and goosebumps-inducing injuries to Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum. They surrendered the upper hand of the series to a Heat team, who hobbled to the finish line after a 26 lead in the first half. Whichever team lost that tangled cord of a contest would kick itself and feel like a kick in the groin. It was the Celtics who scraped 2:40 to a point with a 12-0 run topped by a 3-point run by Jaylen Brown that set a playoff career-high 40 points that somewhat was marred by seven turnovers. But Boston couldn't get over the hump in a game they didn't lead for a single second. They lacked intensity and urgency in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. I don't know," said Jayson Tatum, who was among those missing and shot 3 of 14 for 10 points with zero baskets after halftime. We can not see them in the first quarter with 39 points. So we definitely need to start the game better.” Tatum's running mate Brown, who tried to pull the team onto their backs by becoming the first Celtic with a 40-point playoff performance on 70 percent or more shooting (14 of 20) agreed. "Just one of those games," Brown said. The Celtics can heal their wounds and trace their 2-1 deficit in the series to two one-sided quarters - the disastrous third quarter in Miami, in which they were outplayed 39-14, and Saturday night's dirty dozen minutes. Fueled by Kyle Lowry's return from injury and Bam Adebayo's arrival as a factor in the series (31 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists), Miami leaped all over Boston in the first, surpassing them 39-18. You can point out that center Robert Williams is absent and Smart and Al Horford will miss Game 1. But it's too late in the season to give games away or tempt the basketball gods with indolence. Like the hardwood floor they play on, the Celtics show an obvious pattern. While they haven't lost consecutive playoff games, they've lost focus when they think they've established their dominance. After their first-round win over the no-show Nets, they lost Game 1 of Round Two to the Milwaukee Bucks at their home court by double digits and trailed 17 in the fourth quarter. The Green followed up a characteristic comeback win in Game 4 by handing over a 14-point lead at home in Game 5 of that series in the fourth quarter. After emphatically beating Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks in Game 7, they led the first half of Game 1 of that series by as much as 13 points before dissolving faster than paper straws in a disastrous third quarter. Worst of all, the Celtics are messing with themselves with carefree and carefree basketball. Miami accumulated 24 Boston turnovers and turned them into 33 points, a lifeline for a team searching under every rock for offense with its best player sidelined and sixth man of the year Tyler Herro incapacitated by injury and the Celtics' defense have been done. Boston turned it over seven times in the third, holding back its comeback -- five of which belonged to Brown. I have to do better," Brown said. Hopefully Tatum and Smart, whose most notable contributions to the game were Willis Reed-esque runs out of the TD Garden tunnel after reportedly suffering serious injuries, feel the same way. Tatum turned the ball over six times, three times in the fourth, including a pass that saw the Celtics leap across the pond 98-92 with 1:09 left. Smart excelled in Game 2 with a near triple-double with 12 assists and a turnover. The somber point guard recorded seven assists and four turnovers on this occasion; He had four turnovers against just three assists as the Celtics trailed 87-72 after three quarters. Although Smart finished on 16 points, he was outplayed by Lowry, who made his mark on the game after returning from a hamstring injury to step on the pitch for the first time in the series. Smart fouled, took a technical loser with 39.6 seconds to go and was the worst team at minus 15. He's emblematic of a team that likes to hit their chests when it's best, but sometimes overestimates their abilities. Coach Ime Udoka said the Celtics have been warned to guard against complacency and brace for an early basketball barrage in Miami. "It's disappointing to come out so flat in a Conference Finals game," Udoka said. Now the Celtics have created more work for themselves to win a series they should, because while they've proven they can conquer adversity at will, they still haven't proven they can handle prosperity.

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Heat and Celtics shock Game 4 injury reports

The Miami Heat and Boston Celtics have released their Game 4 Eastern Conference Finals injury reports. The series is currently 2-1 for the Heat after beating the Celtics in Game 3. (Author: Gardener)

The Miami Heat and Boston CelticsThe Miami Heat and Boston Celtics will face off in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals Monday night in Florida, and the two teams have released their injury reports for the game. The Heat currently lead 2-1 in the series after winning Game 3 away against the Celtics. Games 1 and 2 were played in Florida and the Heat won the first game while the Celtics blew out the Heat in the second game. The two teams faced each other in the Disney World bubble in the Eastern Conference (2020), and the Heat won the series to advance to the NBA Finals. However, they lost to LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers for the NBA championship. * SHOULD THE BUCKS MAKE A TRADE? On Sunday afternoon, the Milwaukee Bucks lost Game 7 to the Boston Celtics, who officially end their 2021-22 NBA season in the second round. They won the NBA championship last season and will now enter an off-season where they can try to improve the roster to return to the NBA Finals. * FULL 2022 NBA PLAYOFF RESULTS AND SCHEDULE: Fastbreak on FanNation will update the results and schedule for every 2022 NBA Playoff game.

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Jimmy Butler 'intends' to play Game 4 vs Celtics, Heat has 6 players on injury report (report)

The Heat listed six players on their injury report ahead of Game 4 against the Celtics on Sunday, but it appears they will have their best player available. Jimmy Butler "intends" to play at 8:30 p.m. Monday for Game 4 at TD Garden, according to Yahoo! Butler only played 20 minutes in Game 3 and sat out the second half due to an infection in his right knee. (Author: Gardener)

Jimmy Butler 'The Heat listed six players on their injury report ahead of Game 4 against the Celtics on Sunday, but it appears they will have their best player available. Jimmy Butler "intends" to play at 8:30 p.m. Monday for Game 4 at TD Garden, according to Yahoo! Butler only played 20 minutes in Game 3 and sat out the second half due to an infection in his right knee. He finished with eight points as the Heat defeated the Celtics 109-103 despite missing their best player in the last two quarters. Butler has been dealing with the inflammation this postseason, even missing Game 5 against the Hawks in the first round. But it seems Butler will be ready next Monday. The other five players listed on the injury report for the heat are Kyle Lowry (hamstring), Max Strus (hamstring), Gabe Vincent (hamstring), P. Each player played against the Celtics in Game 3. The two notable Heat players are Lowry, who made his series debut on Saturday, and Tucker, who injured his knee in Game 2 against the Celtics. But the Heat seems to be leaning towards full health - especially with Butler available to play as expected.

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How can the Boston Celtics adjust their game to win Game 4 against the Miami Heat?

The Boston Celtics must treat their Game 4 match with the Miami Heat in their 2022 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals series as a must-win, even though it technically isn't one. With the need to avoid returning to Florida in an elimination scenario (Author: Gardener)

Game 4The Boston Celtics must treat their Game 4 match with the Miami Heat in their 2022 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals series as a must-win, even though it technically isn't one. With no need to return to Florida in a 2-1 elimination scenario for the remainder of the series, it is imperative that the Celtics play better than they did in Game 3 on Saturday. Part of this puts the opponent ahead of them, rather than chasing those defeated in previous rounds - or chasing them from previous losses. But no matter what elements Boston focuses on, their margin of error is too small for flatter performances, as we saw in the two teams' previous meeting. On the latest episode of CLNS Media's Celtics Lab podcast, host Justin Quinn spoke to USA TODAY's Jeff Zilgitt about how Boston could be a better version of himself in Game 4. Celtics Injury Update: Marcus Smart, Robert Williams III Tag -Today for Game 4 vs. Heat; Miami's Jimmy Butler was expected to play Miami 3 games while Jeff Zillgitt Celtic's big man Robert Williams III is out for Game 3 against Heat with a knee injury

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The Red Sox are all-in in the Celtics' playoff run

The Red Sox won their fifth straight Sunday at Fenway and left for Chicago to show their full support for the Celtics. Marcus Smart returned the favor. (Author: Gardener)

The Red SoxThe Red Sox showed some Celtics pride before heading out on a quick three-game trip to Chicago on Sunday afternoon. Sox players were dressed in green in honor of the club's Eastern Conference Finals series - some in full Celtics uniforms for wearing his jersey. Cordero played the hero in an 8-4 win over the Mariners on Sunday and started a walkoff grand slam on the 10th. "Take a day, Franchy Cordero!" Smart tweeted. “Watched this Walkoff Grand Slam live today. Red Sox SWEEP! Thanks for the love.” Cordero replied, “Let's get them tomorrow!” before Game 4 on Monday at the Garden, where the Celtics are 2-1 behind the series. Meanwhile, Smart also highlighted Story, who wore his No. 36 Celtics jersey, noting their shared heritage. Story hails from Irving, Texas, while Smart hails from nearby Flower Mound. The second baseman just wrapped up a massive weekend in which he started five homes, including a grand slam, while driving in 13 runs. "Treasure This Texas Fam Love!" Smart wrote. Grand Slams. The Red Sox released video of players walking to the bus in Celtics attire, with Smart's and Jayson Tatum's jerseys dominating the scene.

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Celtic guard questionable for Game 4 vs Heat after spraining ankle

Boston center Robert Williams III is also listed as a question (Author: Gardener)

Game 4 vs HeatAfter injuring his right ankle in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart is officially ruled questionable for Game 4 Monday night. Smart landed awkwardly on the ankle early in the third quarter of the contest and then returned to Boston's dressing room. However, Smart returned to the court moments later and played the rest of the game. You can watch the game Smart injured his ankle below: Adrenaline likely helped Smart get back into action and overcome the pain in Game 3, but now the Celtics will have to see how his ankle reacts ahead of Game 4 . [It was ] a pretty bad sprain," Celtics coach Ime Udoka said of Smart. "He finished the game but he'll feel it. Considering he was able to play in Game 3 after the injury it seems likely that Smart can hold out again in Game 4 but we'll have to wait and see. In addition to Smart, the Celtics also listed center Robert Williams III as questionable for the competition. Finally, all-star forward Jayson Tatum (right cervical nerve injury) is listed as likely for Game 4.

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Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart and Robert Williams are all listed ahead of Game 4 vs. Heat

The Celtics have again listed at least a couple of rotation players on the injury report as postseason bruises and bruises continue to affect the team. The good news is that Jayson Tatum is likely suffering from right cervical nerve impingement. His problem doesn't seem serious... (Author: Gardener)

Jayson TatumThe Celtics have again listed at least a couple of rotation players on the injury report as postseason bruises and bruises continue to affect the team. The C's had four players on their injury report Sunday ahead of Game 4 against the Heat on Monday. The good news is that Jayson Tatum is likely suffering from right cervical nerve impingement. His problem doesn't appear to be serious as Boston coach Ime Udoka said Tatum is doing well and he picked up a spike in the fourth quarter against the Heat in Game 3. Marcus Smart (right ankle sprain) and Robert Williams III (left knee pain) are both doubtful. "Marcus has a swelling in his ankle," said Udoka on Sunday. The Celtics hope all of their rotation players will be healthy before 8:30 p.m. Monday at the TD Garden for Game 4. The C's were sloppy in their 109-103 loss to the Heat on Saturday, turning the ball 24 times and hearing some boos from the Garden crowd after the first quarter. Boston had a few injury scares for both Smart and Tatum in Game 3. Smart twisted his ankle as he collided with Heat's Kyle Lowry while Tatum hit his neck in an odd spot. Williams was added to the injury report late on Saturday before eventually being shut down as knee pain has slowed him in the postseason. The Celtics are 2-1 down to Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals and need a win on Monday to stave off an eliminator.

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