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Tatum pours in 31 points as Celtics even Eastern Conference Finals with 102-82 win

After a historically loose performance in Game 3, Boston grabbed a commanding victory over Miami in Game 4.

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics - Game Four Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images

Resiliency has been crucial to the Celtics all season. In Game 4, Boston showed their resiliency and tough mindset again, winning at TD Garden, 102-82.

Jayson Tatum responded to the critics after a 10-point, six-turnover game on Saturday, leading the Celtics in scoring with 31. Derrick White scored the first seven points for the Celtics and filled in admirably for Marcus Smart, finishing with 13 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals.

Al Horford had a well-rounded game, scoring just five points but carrying Boston on the glass with 13 rebounds. Horford also had four blocks, leading the team defensively.

Defense was the key to the big win. The Heat’s starters struggled all night. Jimmy Butler finished with just six points, Bam Adebayo had nine, Kyle Lowry had three and PJ Tucker had zero.

Now, the most lopsided series of the Celtics’ 2022 playoff run shifts to Miami on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. In order to advance to the NBA Finals, the Celtics will need to win at least one game in Miami, with only one home game remaining.

Robert Williams made his return to the lineup after missing Game 3, and Smart was ruled out pregame after head coach Ime Udoka said there was “significant swelling” in Smart’s injured ankle. Tyler Herro was out for Miami with a groin injury.

Boston started with a 7-0 run, as White came ready to play in Smart’s absence. White had the first seven points of the game, as well as two steals in the first three minutes.

After White’s outburst, Tatum began to heat up. Following a 10-point performance in game three, Tatum had nine points with five minutes to go in the first quarter and the Celtics led 18-1.

Miami’s drought was historic. The Heat managed just one points in the first eight minutes of the game, the lowest point scored in the first eight minutes of a playoff game in the last 25 years, according to ESPN’s Kirk Goldsberry.

Boston led 26-4 as the first quarter wound down, then the Heat put in a few more points to make it 29-11 at the end of one.

The Celtics’ defense continued to keep the team ahead as the second quarter pressed on. The Heat starters couldn’t get anything to fall, as Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry all struggled offensively. Victor Oladipo was the best offensive option for Miami in the first half.

Up 50-23 with four minutes left in the half, the Celtics’ 27-point lead was its largest of the night. Robert Williams was impactful in his return, especially at the free throw line. Williams shot 4/4 from the free throw line in the first half.

It wasn’t just Williams attacking at the line, Tatum shot 12/14 on his first-half free throws. Tatum had 24 points, seven rebounds and three assists at the half.

After turning the ball over 24 times in Game 3, Boston turned the ball over just three times in the first half. Oladipo continued to be the only source of offense for Miami, putting up 55% of the Heat’s first half points.

To begin the third quarter, Boston continued to build its lead. After Tatum hit a fadeaway jump shot with eight and a half minutes remaining in the third, Boston took a 30-point lead, 67-37. Al Horford hit two free throws, then Miami called a timeout as the Celtics’ lead reached 32, 69-37. The Heat continued to struggle offensively, shooting 12/50 (24%). Likewise, the Celtics offense took a dip in the third, mustering just 19 points.

Miami closed out the third quarter with eight unanswered to cut the lead to 23. Tatum and Oladipo traded baskets to close out an evenly-matched third quarter. Entering the fourth , Boston led still by a significant margin, 76-52.

To start the fourth, Miami had a majority of their benchwarmers in. Dwayne Dedmon, Duncan Robinson and Gabe Vincent saw extended minutes as the Celtics hung on to a near 30-point lead.

Boston’s bench players, plus White, closed out the game with poise, securing the Game 4 victory.

Next up for the Celtics and Heat is a Wednesday night tip, as the crucial Game 5 begins at 8:30 p.m in Miami.

For more postgame coverage of the Celtics’ massive series equalizer, tune into the the Garden Report Postgame Show LIVE on CLNS Media right after the game. Join A Sherrod Blakely, Bobby Manning, Josue Pavon, Jimmy Toscano and host John Zannis for a full breakdown. Plus, the guys will discuss how Boston can keep the momentum for a crucial Game 5 in South Beach.

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