NBA: The Celtics crush Miami without Marcus Smart and even the finals of the NBA East | Sports | The USA Print

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Far from living up to its name, the Miami Heat showed their coldest version this morning at the TD Garden in Boston. The Celtics, much superior from the first quarter, when they reached a 22-point lead, came out determined to cover the absence of Marcus Smart based on intensity. Weighed down by a sprained ankle, the ’36’ from Boston could not be with the team, just like Tyler Herro on the visiting side, he is down due to a sore groin. However, Miami did not wake up at any time and the Celtics, forceful before their audience, took the fourth game of the Eastern Conference finals comfortably (102-82). Now, with the series tied at two, both teams return to Florida to break the prevailing balance in the fifth game of the tie.

In some playoffs of the most confusing, in which the great differences are prevailing over the even endings, the Celtics returned the coin to Miami, who had won the third game of the series by winning in Boston last Saturday. That night, Jayson Tatum, destined to set the pace for Massachusetts in their title aspirations, was missing and only scored ten points. “It is unacceptable, I have not been up to the task”, he confessed at a press conference after the meeting. Last night, the star of the Celtics redeemed himself and was the leading scorer with 31 points.

Tatum, a fervent devotee of Kobe Bryant, with whom he was able to train on more than one occasion to perfect his style, arrived at TD Garden wearing pants that showed several plays by his idol on the Lakers. Higher up on the torso, the Celtics forward wore a white jersey with the figure of Michael Jordan holding one of his six rings, cigar included. The references, at least, are clear.

Last night, without Marcus Smart, down with a sprained right ankle, Tatum stood out above the rest. At 24 years old, the Celtics forward scored more points, 31, than the entire starting five of Miami, who disappeared in combat: Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, PJ Tucker, Kyle Lowry and Max Strus only added 18 points, the score lowest by a starting five in the playoffs since 1976.

The absence of Tyler Herro, a compulsive scorer from the bench and usual lifesaver when his team’s attack needs solutions, didn’t help the Florida team’s performance either. Specialist Duncan Robinson did not fill his gap —14 points— and Herro, who was out due to groin discomfort this morning, has already said he wants to be back in the fifth game.

By then, Erik Spoelstra will have to have readjusted his team’s attack. Last night, before the imposing centimeters of Robert Williams III, the men in black they dwarfed Bam Adebayo, used to dealing with all the giants in the league, suffered it in his own flesh: defended by Williams, he averaged 8 points in the tie; without him, 31.

Such was the visiting collapse that Miami lost by 20 points on a night in which the Celtics, far from their best version, only scored 23.5% of the triples. And it was not the most striking thing: the Heat only made 57% of their free throws, space in which Boston took a 24-point lead.

On the left, the Boston Celtics;  on the right, the Miami Heat.
On the left, the Boston Celtics; on the right, the Miami Heat.

Ime Udoka’s men, more regular throughout the series, with or without injuries, reach the fifth game with the tie tied (2-2) despite having won or tied 13 of the 16 quarters played against the Heat. An unequivocal sample of the —unusual— great differences that the Eastern Conference finals are leaving: more than 15 average points.

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