1. You can’t make history if there isn’t history to be made.
You also can’t make history all at once. You just have to take it step by step, and the Boston Celtics took the first step in Game 4.
Make no mistake, the Miami Heat still have full control of this series. They need one win. The Celtics need three wins. But it’s the first to four. Doesn’t really matter how you get there.
We aren’t suggesting that Boston saved the season on Tuesday night, or that they are going to win the series. But they have a chance now. And having a chance is all you want. To play one more game. And then turn that into one more game after. That’s all you want.
To get there, the Celtics had to reverse course and they did so with a monster third quarter in Game 4. Boston could have rolled over, but they stepped up. And it happened like an avalanche.
2. This sequence summed up the series for the Celtics and Heat to this point. Kevin Love missed a contested three. Jimmy Butler grabbed the offense board and missed the easy putback before grabbing a second rebound. Off a swing pass, Max Strus was blocked by Jayson Tatum, who had hustled back into the play. But the ball fell back to Strus, and he put the Heat up 61-52:
That was the point where Boston could have said “It isn’t our year” and called it a season. But they didn’t.
3. After both teams traded a couple of misses, Jayson Tatum saw Kevin Love laying back off this screen and went right into his shot:
The Celtics forced a miss and Tatum took this no-hesitation, rise-and-fire three:
4. After Joe Mazzulla called a timeout when Jaylen Brown got trapped (Yeah! Continuous improvement!), he drew up an ATO to get the ball into the paint. Marcus Smart hit the lane, kicked to Al Horford, who made the extra pass to Derrick White in the corner:
A 9-0 run in just over a minute of game time to tie it. But Boston was far from done.
5. Al Horford starts this sequence by stripping Max Strus. From there Jaylen Brown is off to the races. He doesn’t risk the pass, which might have resulted in a turnover. Instead, Brown trusted his athleticism and he got a layup to give the Celtics the lead:
6. After a rough stretch in the first half, Jayson Tatum settled down and stayed patient for the remainder of the game. Here, he accepted the double-team and found Marcus Smart for an open triple:
16-0 Celtics run, and Erik Spoelstra finally called a timeout. Seems like Joe Mazzulla might not be the only coach who lets his team try to play through runs sometimes. (If you can’t already note the heavy sarcasm here, please let this serve as the indicator.)
7. Miami committed a turnover after that timeout and Derrick White got a couple of free throws to stretch the run to 18-0 and Boston was up 70-61.
The Heat settled back down and they traded some baskets with the Celtics. When Jimmy Butler hit a reverse layup with 3:24 to play, it seemed like Boston might have been running out of gas.
Time to light the Bat Signal.
Unselfish ball movement let Grant Williams get to work in the corner office:
A little later, Jayson Tatum drew two again. This time the outlet was to Williams. He let it fly without a second thought:
The double-digit lead was briefly restored before Butler ended the third quarter with a dunk.
Overall, Boston outscored Miami 38-23 in the period. The Celtics shot 14-of-23, including 7-of-12 from behind the arc with one turnover. The Heat were 8-of-22 from the floor, and 2-of-8 on three-pointers with five turnovers.
But now it was the Celtics and their greatest opponent: A fourth-quarter lead.
8. The final period got off to a ragged start. Miami scored the first four points and Joe Mazzulla called a timeout to cut Jayson Tatum’s rest short. (Who is this guy running the sideline?!?!) On the ATO, Boston ran a set designed to get Tatum a touch at the nail. He drilled a no-dribble turnaround off the catch:
There isn’t a good reason why, but after that shot it felt like Boston was going to win. Mazzulla called a great timeout. He got the Celtics best player back in the game and drew up a set to get him a shot in one of his best spots. It felt like somewhere around a year’s worth of frustrations were hammered away with that one sequence.
9. The Celtics then closed it out with their defense. They showed they still have it in them to dig down and get stops.
The Duncan Robinson-Bam Adebayo DHO game has killed Boston for years now. On this one, Derrick White wasn’t having it, and it led to the loud finish from Jaylen Brown:
After another Miami timeout, Grant Williams stood tall, strong and proud. Williams jumped out to switch onto Jimmy Butler. When the Heat needed a bucket, they went to the guy who almost always delivers. Almost always:
10. Win one more game for the chance to play win one more game. That’s the mantra for the Boston Celtics now. As multiple Celtics said before Game 4: “Don’t let us get one.”
Boston got one. Now, they need another one. Win one to play one more.
We’ve all been down and negative, so it was nice to feel good and to have some fun again. It’s fun to be the underdog again. It’s fun to have nothing but blind faith, because there really isn’t anything else to cling to.
Go ahead, enjoy it. Maybe it’s the last win of the season, but maybe it isn’t. You can’t make history if there isn’t history to be made.
Believe in Boston.