The Miami Heat are one win away from the NBA Finals.
Behind a historic 37-point performance from rookie Tyler Herro, the Heat clinched the Game 4 thriller 112-109. By never trailing by double digits in this one, as they did in the previous three games of this series, the Heat needed to survive the Celtics' late rally led by Jayson Tatum's bounce-back 28-point second half.
In the end, the Heat hung on to take a 3-1 series lead behind key contributions from Goran Dragic (22 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals), Jimmy Butler (24 points, nine rebounds, three assists), and Bam Adebayo (20 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, two steals).
On the other hand, the C's had five players finish in double figures. They made a game out of this one, despite committing 19 turnovers to Miami's 8, but couldn't ice the comeback despite some big buckets down the stretch.
Here are more observations from the game.
1. Heat take and maintain an early lead
Coming into Game 4, the Heat had only led for 20.3% of the total minutes played . After Game 3, both their All-Stars in Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo expressed their concerns about playing from behind for most of the series.
In the first quarter of Game 4, Butler and Bam combined for 12 points and eight rebounds as the Heat raced to a 24-23 first-quarter lead.
#PlayoffJimmy going right to work 🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/dEf4HXtK6T- Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) September 24, 2020
💥 ONE-HANDED BAM SLAM ALERT 💥 pic.twitter.com/h85mLbwSdQ- Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) September 24, 2020
The game was close early with four lead changes and three ties in the first 12 minutes but Heat led for nearly 10 minutes of the period.
2. Tyler Herro's BIG first half
The 20-year-old Heat rookie started the game on fire, making five of his first six shots. He finished the first half as the game's leading scorer with 15 points in 18 minutes off the bench on 6-of-10 shooting.
The 20-Year-old Vet was on another level in the 1st-half:- Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) September 24, 2020
15 Pts | 5 Rebs | 1 Ast pic.twitter.com/FSBdYSOxI3
He matched San Antonio Spurs legend Manu Ginobili for most 10-point playoff games off the bench as a rookie since starts were first tracked in 1970-71. This was his 13th straight game of scoring at least 10 points, tying Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor for the 3rd-longest streak by a rookie in NBA postseason history.
3. Celtics hang around in defensive 1st half
After the first two periods, the Celtics nearly doubled up the Heat's turnover tally 11-6. Jayson Tatum, despite having seven rebounds and three assists, was scoreless in the first half - his only scoreless half of the season - on 0-of-6 shooting.
This was the 10th time in his career Jayson Tatum has gone scoreless in the first half and the second time he's done it in a playoff game (Game 2 win vs MIL in 2018 1st Round) per @Sportradar.- Jared Weiss (@JaredWeissNBA) September 24, 2020
Marcus Smart picked up his third foul with 5:40 left in the second quarter. So, the fact that Boston was only down six at halftime despite all of the above numbers is huge. Walker and Brown combined for half of the team's 44 first-half points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field.
It was a strange first half as the Heat led 50-44 while Boston's points tally was their lowest first-half total of these playoffs by five points . In a defensive first half, neither team shot better than 42.2% from the field and 26.3% from long distance as Miami led for nearly 22 of the 24 minutes.
4. Tatum comes alive in the 3rd
With 6:48 in the third quarter to go, Jayson Tatum knocked his first field goal of the game.
👀 Tatum scores ALL 16 of his points in the 3rd to cut the @celtics deficit to 1 entering Q4 on ESPN! #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/MAQk4DYwd7- NBA (@NBA) September 24, 2020
He would finish with 16 points in the quarter, the game's leading scorer for the period, on 6-of-8 shooting from the field and 2-of-2 from beyond the arc. His late bucket followed by a block in the third quarter pulled the Celtics within one point of the Heat at 77-76 in a quarter where Miami led by their biggest margin of the series -12 points.
JT said ENOUGH pic.twitter.com/HvnRA16VGN- Boston Celtics (@celtics) September 24, 2020
5. Celtics battle back to take the lead
After trailing for all of the middle two quarters, Boston came back from their deficit to lead early in the fourth quarter.
Brown to Theis, for the lead! @celtics 85@MiamiHEAT 84- NBA (@NBA) September 24, 2020
8:44 remaining on ESPN. #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/7kcbtwjNyC
It was the first Boston lead since 25-24 .
6. Herro's drops 17 in 4th, for historic Game 4
After scoring 15 in the first half, the Heat rookie stayed hot in the second half. He dropped 17 in the final quarter, helping the Heat outscore the Celtics 35-33 and thwarting Boston's comeback.
His 37 points are the second-most scored by a rookie 21 years or younger in a playoff game, second only to Magic Johnson's 42 points in Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals.
Tyler Herro is the youngest player in NBA history to drop 30 points in a playoff game off the bench.- StatMuse (@statmuse) September 24, 2020
He's 20 years old. pic.twitter.com/eE3DaHatqs
His points tally is also a Heat franchise record for a rookie in the playoffs, previously held by Dwyane Wade (27).
7. Plenty at stake in Game 5
For the Celtics, down 3-1, Game 5 is a must-win. Can they make the improbable comeback? If they do, they would become the first franchise ever to do so three times, after previously achieving the feat in 1968 and 1981.
Meanwhile, for the Heat, a spot in the NBA Finals is at stake - the franchise's first since 2014 and the sixth in the last 14 years. If they win, it would be Jimmy Butler's first Finals appearance, just like it would for a majority of the Heat roster, and the sixth consecutive one for former Finals MVP Andre Iguodala.
Game 5 is scheduled for Friday, September 25th at 8:30 p.m. ET.
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