By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
A first-half donut from Jayson Tatum, a staggering 19 turnovers, and a historic effort from the Heat’s Tyler Herro spelled trouble for the Celtics on Wednesday night, and has put the C’s on the brink of elimination with a 112-109 loss.
Up 25-24 in the second quarter, it would take a combined 120 points from the C’s and Heat before Boston captured their second lead of the night, and even then, it didn’t expand into anything more than a single-point edge that ultimately faded.
Entering the half down six, the Celtics’ inability to knock down their looks from deep was straight-up glaring, with misses on all but five of their 19 heaves from three-point range in the opening 24 minutes. And Tatum’s aforementioned zero was especially damning, with the Green’s top threat held off the board with an 0-for-6 start, and with four of those misses coming from deep.
And though Tatum woke up in the third quarter, scoring 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting (and a 2-for-2 restart from the arc), the Celtics were unable to slow down the 20-year-old Herro, who added another 21 points in the second half for a 37-point night. It was the highest-scoring effort from an under-21 talent since Magic Johnson’s effort four decades ago.
Every time the Celtics got close, Herro was there to punch them in the mouth. Again and again and again.
But the C’s true undoing in this game came during a fourth-quarter sequence that featured four straight turnovers, and not even late-game makes on a Jaylen Brown three and a perfect free-throw line effort from Kemba Walker couldn’t dig the Green out of trouble.
Overall, the Heat turned the Celtics’ 19 turnovers into a difference-making 17 points.
In addition to Herro’s 37 off the bench, the Heat had three starters finish with at least 20 points, led by Jimmy Butler’s 24, and with Goran Dragic (22) and Bam Adebayo (20) behind him.
Tatum led all Boston shooters with 28, while Brown (21) and Walker (20) also hit the 20-point marker.
As a result, the Celtics find themselves staring down a 3-1 series deficit for the second straight postseason.
That didn’t make a difference for the 2019 team, which lost their must-win Game 5 against the Bucks, and the Celtics have lost six straight series in which they’ve trailed 3-1 dating back to 1982. The Celtics have rallied to win two series when down 3-1, and went on to win the NBA championship both times, but it hasn’t happened for the Green since 1981.
A must-win Game 5 will have an 8:30 p.m. tipoff Friday night.