MIAMI, Florida – By defeating the Miami Heat on Tuesday with a score of 116 to 99 to cut the series deficit to 3 to 1, the Boston Celtics kept their dreams of making it to the Eastern Conference finals alive.
In what was a determined team effort from Joe Mazzulla’s Celtics, Jayson Tatum led the way with 33 points, 11 rebounds, and assists. Five other players reached double digits.
The Celtics were in danger of being eliminated 4 to 0 after the Heat’s 128-102 victory on Sunday, but they will now try to put more pressure on Miami in their matchup back in Boston on Thursday.
Despite the fact that no team in NBA history has ever rallied from a 3 to 0 deficit to win a best-of-seven playoff series, Boston will have gained confidence that they can now pull off a turnaround and advance to the Finals, where the Denver Nuggets wait.
With four minutes remaining in the first quarter, the Heat, who are aiming to advance to the NBA finals for the seventh time while also seeking their first title since 2013, got off to a great start and seized a 22 to 15 lead.
The Miami audience expected Erik Spoelstra to win easily once more with Gabe Vincent playing brilliantly, but Boston stayed in the game and trailed by just 56-50 at the break.
However, once the visitors embarked on a quick 18-0 run in the third quarter, scoring nine points to go from nine points down to nine up, Miami never recovered. Tatum scored half of those points.
The Celtics never appeared in jeopardy when Miami ran out of strategies against a solid Boston defense that had 16 thefts.
Miami’s Jimmy Butler scored 29 points but only hit one of his team’s eight three-point tries out of a possible 32 attempts, and only one of his team’s four attempts.
Boston, in comparison, made 19 out of its 45 three-point attempts. When the Celtics make at least 18 three-pointers in a game, they are 30 to 6.
Butler, who has led Miami, the eighth-seeded team in the playoffs, said they wouldn’t let the Celtics capitalize on the victory.
Butler declared that despite the defeat, he wouldn’t change his strategy.
In the fourth quarter, Vincent, who finished with 17 points, injured his ankle. He left the game for treatment before coming back, but Spoelstra said it was unclear how serious the injury was.
Boston returns home with some newfound hope but Miami may not be in a panic.