Miami, May 24 (BNA): Down in the ninth early in the third quarter, the Boston Celtics are down 3-0 in the series and realize their season was right on the brink.
Three minutes later, everything looked different.
Jason Tatum had 33 points and 11 rebounds, Jaylen Brown added 17 points and the Celtics avoided elimination in the Eastern Conference Finals by running away in the second half to defeat the Miami Heat 116-99 in Game 4 on Tuesday night, the Associated Press reported. (AP) reported.
“We were just trying to save our season,” Tatum said.
They definitely found a way to do that. The two big differences: The Celtics lead by 30 points on three-pointers, and are 18-0 in that game-changing three-minute, third-quarter surge they hope will eventually turn the series around.
“We can’t relax,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzola said. “We have to maintain the same level of strength, the same mentality and the same concentration in the next match.”
Derrick White scored 16 points, Grant Williams 14, Al Horford added 12 and Marcus Smart scored 11 as the Celtics still trailed the series 3-1 but took it back to Boston in Game 5 on Thursday.
Jimmy Butler scored 29 for Miami, which edged out 48-22 in a 14-minute stretch that turned the game and possibly the series completely around. Boston would also have a Game 7 on its home floor as well if it can continue to expand this series.
“Tonight we played with pace and purpose,” said Tatum. “We were getting stops. We were coming up with transition. You see passes and free throws, jump shots are starting to feel a lot easier.”
Gabe Vincent scored 17 goals for Miami, Caleb Martin 16, and Bam Adebayo added 10. The Heat shot 8 for 32 three-pointers, while Boston was 18 for 45.
No team in NBA history has successfully recovered from a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series. 150 have tried, and 150 have failed.
But the Celtics gave themselves hope.
“We really don’t have a choice,” Mazzola said. “It’s do-or-die. We gotta stick together.”
The Heat led up to nine points in the first quarter, held the lead for most of the first half and went up by nine again when Max Stross connected on a three-pointer early in the third quarter.
The 18-0 run resulted in a nine-to-nine Boston snap, a huge turnaround that took 3 minutes, 3 seconds. The Celtics were 6-of-7 from the floor during the round, 4-of-4 from 3-point range, and Tatum had nine of his 18 points and just as the Eastern Conference champion won three playoff games on home soil in Miami in last year’s playoffs. She was rolling again.
“We always say the last one to get it is the hardest,” said Adebayo. “I knew they would be desperate.”
Miami got four points late in the third, only to see another rush by the Celtics this time, seven unanswered points in 40 seconds. Boston’s 88-79 lead was in the fourth, after winning the third quarter 38-23, with 21 of those points coming on three-pointers.
The Celtics held the lead the rest of the way.