Celtics torch Heat early, even series with 102-82 blowout

Boston, May 24 (BUS): The Miami Heat left Jason Tatum lying on the field with a sore neck in the closing minutes of Game Three.

The Celtics All-Stars played their part in making sure the Heat were hurt after Game Four, according to the Associated Press.

Tatum scored 31 points and Boston took their turn to thrash Miami early, jumping to 26-4, and notching a 102-82 victory that tied the Eastern Conference Finals in two games each.

“Obviously we knew how important this match was,” Tatum said. “Everyone just had to come up with a different sense of urgency.”

Miami missed 15 of their first 16 shots as this odd streak spawned another game that all ended after 12 minutes. The Heat 39-18 took the lead after the first quarter of Game Three.

Boston improved to 5-0 this postseason after the loss. Coach Im Odoka said the challenge is finding more consistency.

“I just had the same energy when we had a win and a loss,” Odoka said. “This is a three-game series now. We can’t always turn our thinking around when we come out of a loss and feel a little hopeless.”

Game five is Wednesday in Miami.

Payton Pritchard scored 14 points for the Celtics. Derek White added 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists, and Robert Williams finished with 12 points and nine rebounds.

“We just wanted to ramp up the effort all over,” Williams said.

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The Celtics led by 27 points in the second quarter and extended their lead to 32 points in the third quarter. Each game in this series features a progression of at least 20 points, and none of them are locked.

Victor Oladipo topped the Heat team with 23 points. Miami Butler (six points), Kyle Lowry (three points), BJ Tucker (no points), Max Strauss (no points) and Pam Adebayo (nine points) were a combined 7 points out of 36. They all sat in the fourth quarter.

“They came out and jumped on us,” Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said. We don’t make any excuses. They definitely outdid us tonight. We couldn’t get any kind of control over the game.”

The Celtics Hit down hampered defensive player of the year Marcus Smart, who sat with a sprained right ankle he suffered in the second half of Game Three.

The Heat were without Tyler Herro, who sustained a thigh injury late in the third game.

Butler was in the starting lineup after he missed the second half of Match 3 due to a swelling in his right knee. Lowry (a strained left hamstring), Strousse (a strained hamstring) and Tucker (a strained left knee hamstring) tested their injuries before they took off.

“It’s part of the qualifiers. You learn to adapt,” Adebayo said. “The guys are out, the guys are playing half, the guys are playing 20 minutes into the game, it just depends. You just have to find a way to win.”

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Boston’s Williams is back after missing a game with an ache in his surgically repaired left knee.

Even with their stifling roster, the Celtics enjoyed the series’ fastest start. Starting with Smart, White scored the first seven points of the game as Boston led 8-0.

It quickly grew to 18-1, with Miami failing on its first 14 shots. The Heat didn’t get its first point until Adebayo’s free throw at 7:56. Miami made its first field goal at 3:22, 3-pointers for Oladipo, and finished the quarter 3-for-20.

The Celtics led 29-11 in the second quarter and led 57-33 in the first half.

Hints

Heat: Shot 33% (30 of 90). … He finished with a score of 64 bench points. … Miami earned one point in the first eight minutes, the lowest total any team has achieved in a playoff game in the past quarter century, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Celtics: beat Miami 20-8 in the first quarter. … Several current and former New England Patriots champions were in the crowd, including Devin, Jason McCourty, Malcolm Butler and Damien Harris.

start diving

According to ESPN stats and information, the 18 points Miami players have scored is the lowest five-point total in a playoff since the starters were first tracked in 1970-71.

Turnover formula

After completing 23 spins in Game 3, the Celtics had nine in Game 4. They improved to 10-2 in this post-season when they had 15 or fewer spins. Boston 0-3 when she has 16 gifts or more.

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