The Denver Nuggets swept the LA Lakers and it almost looked like the Miami Heat would do the same against the Boston Celtics. They took the first three games before stumbling in Game 4, and it’s now up to the Celtics to try to keep the Eastern playoffs alive as they face off against each other again tonight.
Heat Stay Strong, But Slip
On Tuesday, No. 8 Miami could have potentially knocked out No. 2 Boston. However, their three-point shooting performance was poor, with only 8 of 32 attempts being successful, equating to a 25% success rate. Jimmy Butler was the standout player, recording 29 points as well as nine rebounds and five assists.
The Heat’s backcourt roster has been depleted with the absence of key players Victor Oladip, Tyler Herro, and Vincent. Their current shooting percentage from three-point range stands at 5%, with an average of 4.1 assists per game.
Now, they’re going to play without Gabe Vincent, as well. His absence will give more playing time to Kyle Lowry, the established point guard who struggled on Tuesday night with only five points and four turnovers in 28 minutes of play.
As a result, Butler will take on a larger role in ball handling during Thursday’s game. Butler was an exceptional player during the playoffs and was often referred to as Playoff Jimmy, with an average of 22 points per game. During the regular season, he scored only nine points, but when the playoffs began, he managed to average 29.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 5.6 assists.
The Celtics’ defense will likely defeat Butler in their upcoming game on Thursday, which means that players like Caleb Martin, Duncan Robinson and Max Strus will need to step up and contribute. Despite scoring only 10 points, grabbing five rebounds, and making four turnovers in 35 minutes during the last game, Bam Adebayo is expected to play better and make a greater impact tonight.
Boston Turns Aggressive
Thanks to an impressive 18-0 run during the third quarter on Tuesday, Boston could finally put an end to their losing streak. They were struggling initially, being nine points behind, but the team appeared to be reinvigorated during the game.
In fact, Jayson Tatum’s exceptional performance, featuring 33 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, was a boost for the team. However, it was Derrick White (16 pts) and Grant Williams (14 pts, six rebounds) who showed a significant difference in the overall outcome of the match.
The Celtics have been playing well in the playoffs, with a field goal percentage of 48.3%. Even though they have been inconsistent at times, they still maintain a 38% shooting percentage.
Tatum has been a key player, with an impressive average of 28.1 points and 10.5 rebounds per game during the postseason. However, his three-point shooting accuracy is only at 34.9%. Meanwhile, White has been phenomenal from long range, with a shooting efficiency of 45%.
Boston’s shooting percentage from the field is currently at 50.3% and they have managed to secure three 30-point leads in just four games. While repeating this performance is no easy feat, the team is relying on their others to step up and help them send the game back to Miami with another solid performance. The team’s shooting percentage of 3% also adds to their overall confidence.
No team has ever bounced back from a 3-0 deficit in the playoffs to win. Boston still has a long way to go if it wants to pull it off, but is on the right path. With the Heat facing several injuries tonight, the Celtics have a chance to gain more ground in the series.