Jayson Tatum had 34 points and 11 rebounds, Derrick White and Jaylen Brown each added 16 points and the Boston Celtics staved off elimination in the Eastern Conference finals by running away in the second half to beat the Miami Heat 116-99 in Game 4 on Tuesday night.
Grant Williams scored 14, Al Horford added 12 and Marcus Smart scored 11 for the Celtics, who still trail the series 3-1 – but sent it back to Boston for a Game 5 on Thursday.
Jimmy Butler scored 29 for Miami, who led by nine in the second half before getting outscored 48-22 in a 14-minute stretch that turned the game completely around. Boston would also have Game 7 on their floor as well if they can keep extending this series.
Gabe Vincent scored 17 for Miami, Caleb Martin had 16 and Bam Adebayo added 10. The Heat shot eight for 32 on 3-pointers, while Boston went 19 for 45 – a massive 33-point difference in scoring from beyond the arc.
“We have to keep that same level of intensity, same mindset, same focus for the next game,” said Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla.
No team in NBA history has ever successfully rallied from a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series; 150 have tried, 150 have failed. But the Celtics gave themselves hope.
“We were just trying to save our season,” Tatum said.
The Heat led by as many as nine points in the opening quarter, kept the lead for the majority of the first half and were up by nine again when Max Strus connected on a 3-pointer early in the third quarter.
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Boston’s season was officially on the brink. And the Celtics responded – most emphatically.
An 18-0 run took Boston from down nine to up nine, a turnaround that took only three minutes. The Celtics were six of seven from the floor during the run, four of four from 3-point range, Tatum had nine of the 18 points and just like that the defending East champions – who won three playoff games on Miami’s home floor in last year’s playoffs – were rolling again.
Miami got within four late in the third, only to see another lightning-fast spurt by the Celtics – this time, seven unanswered points in 40 seconds.
Boston’s edge was 88-79 going into the fourth, after winning the third quarter 38-23, with 21 of those points coming on 3-pointers.
The Celtics kept the lead the rest of the way.
“They got us tonight,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You have to give them credit for that. There’s no doubt about it. There’s no questioning it. We’re not wondering about that. They deserved to win tonight. We have to regroup and get ready for a great opportunity in Boston.”