In the obligation to win under penalty of elimination, the Celtics succeeded (116-99) on the floor of the Heat, towed by 33 points from Jayson Tatum, to return to 3-1 in their Eastern Conference final , Tuesday in the NBA play-offs.
Boston has avoided a humiliating sweep and greens up a bit in this series, even if it remains on the edge of the precipice.
“We were down 3-0, but we didn’t put too much pressure on ourselves. We try to take it one game at a time. We weren’t thinking about winning four in a row tonight, we were just trying to salvage our season and that’s what we did,” Tatum commented.
“Saved”, she is not yet, because last season’s finalist must chain three other successes in a row to reverse this highly compromised situation. However in history, in 150 occasions, never a team trailing 3 to 0 has won a series in seven matches.
The Heat therefore remain in favorable tie to try to play a seventh final, with the objective of winning a fourth championship title (after 2006, 2012 and 2013), but will have to be wary of an opponent who has regained his fighting virtues, after giving up during match N.3.
And as often when the green machine gets carried away, Tatum (14/22 on shots, 11 rebounds, 7 assists) acts as a locomotive, setting the tone and dictating the tempo, unlike his failure 48 hours earlier. This is what happened in the third quarter, his 14 points having largely contributed to the beautiful escape of the C’s (88-79) by inflicting a 38-23 on the Floridians.
“Great scorers eventually find a way to score at some point. You don’t expect a great player like Tatum to have many nights without. But you have to try to make it that difficult for him. as possible,” said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra.
With a remarkable overall address (51.2% success, 18/45 behind the arc), Boston then continued to widen the gap, with the contributions of Derrick White and Jaylen Brown, authors of 16 and 17 dots.
“I think that since the start of the series, we have generated good shots, but that does not prevent mistakes and sometimes the shots do not come in. Tonight, we played in rhythm and with determination, we stopped their offensives, played against … And when we see the double-steps and the free throws go in, the shots in suspension come in much more easily”, further analyzed Tatum.
Symbol of the Celtics’ newfound virtues: Grant Williams, author of 14 points and a remarkable counter on Jimmy Butler, without this time provoking the latter as he made the mistake in the second game, sounding the star’s alarm clock.
The latter was the only one to embody resistance in the third quarter by scoring 15 of his 29 points (9 rebounds). For the first time in the series, his teammates were unable to raise their level of play, even if Gabe Vincent (17 pts), who hurt his knee in the process, and Caleb Martin (16 pts), n have not failed.
A last effort is to be made and this defeat must as such serve as a booster shot in Miami. Because Boston, on probation, will do everything to instil doubt in the Floridians, Thursday at home during match N.5, just as decisive.
“We know the odds are against us, but we are a team that believes in it no matter what,” warned Marcus Smart.