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NBA

Celtics’ Jayson Tatum outscored the entire starting 5 of the Miami Heat

If anything, the Heat will be counting themselves lucky that things didn’t end even worse for them in a Game 4 loss that brought the series to 2-2

Paul Rudder
Update:
Celtics’ Jayson Tatum outscored the entire starting 5 of the Miami Heat
Paul RutherfordUSA TODAY Sports

The Celtics star was in fine form during their Game 4 clash with the Miami Heat, but so too was his team as they worked to put there star in dangerous positions all night The Celtics and Jayson Tatum bounce back to level the series With some referring to it as a “blood bath,” the gritty, rough and tumble Eastern Conference Final series between the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat has been something to behold. On Monday night the tit for tat nature of the series was yet again on display as the Celtics rebounded from a tough loss in Game 3 to level the series at 2-2 with a crushing 102-82 win over the Heat in Game 4. It should be said that, while there is a 20 point difference in that scoreline, it could have been much worse.

While it was always likely that the Celtics would turn up for Game 4 with more focus after tough loss in Game 3, nobody could have predicted what happened on Monday night. Where Celtics star Jayson Tatum was concerned, his game was perhaps the best example of the turn around. Following a poor showing in the last game where he finished the night with 10 points on 3 of 14 shooting, Tatum quite simply exploded in Game 4 with 31 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Tatum found his rhythm and the Celtics were happy more over keen to let him dance to it as they consistently gave him better looks. With Boston heading to Miami for Game 5 on Wednesday night, the question now becomes ‘can they do it again?’

Jayson Tatum took apart the Miami Heat

While there were a variety of plays that exemplified the kind of mood Tatum was in on the night, there are a few that stand out. Take for example the moment he faked out Max Strus along the baseline in the middle of the first quarter en route to a smooth jumper. Then there was silky play making which saw him evade a double team in the second quarter, before making a bullet pass to an open Grant Williams who obliged by sinking a 3 pointer. In short, Tatum put on a display for the ages on Monday night, but what’s worse - for the Heat - is that his performance was superior to theirs. Entirely.

The Miami Heat starting 5 was outscored by Jayson Tatum

You read that right. On a night when he was as calm and collected in his decision making as you could ask for, Tatum shot more free throws with 16 than the entire Heat team who had 14 and actually outscored the Heat’s entire starting lineup combined, with his 31 points versus their 18. Of course it should be said that the Heat’s offense was particularly poor on the night - if the aforementioned stats didn’t make that clear. Strus and PJ Tucker for example finished the night with zero points, while the hero of Game 3 Kyle Lowry ended with three points on 1 of 6 shooting. Main man Jimmy Butler who returned from knee soreness had six points and Bam Adebayo who killed it in Game 3, could only muster nine on 3 of 5. A night to forget indeed.

To put that performance in perspective, the Heat’s 18 combined points is the lowest tally by any starting lineup in the NBA Playoffs since the league started recording such statistics back in 1970. To add insult to injury, there was actually another player on the night who did the same. Victor Oladipo of the Miami Heat posted 23 points on the night thereby becoming the first player in league history to come off the bench and outscore his own team’s starting line up since 1970. With all that said, the Celtics best known asset - their defense - must be given credit. Between Tatum’s showing and the sub par performance of the Heat, the Celtics’ defense was ever present as it limited any possibilities the Heat may have had. In the end it was the combined intensity of their star and their machine like defense that resulted in a brutal loss for the Heat.

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