When the Celtics defeated the Heat 116-99 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, we saw a glimpse into how they could get back into this series and possibly even win it. They played their trademark elite defense for the first time in this series. Jimmy Butler did have 29 points, but he was only 9-21 from the field. No other player had more than 17 points for the Heat. Jayson Tatum was the best player on the court, scoring 33 and adding 11 rebounds and 7 assists. Jaylen Brown added 17, and other role players like Al Horford stepped up all night for the Celtics. That’s exactly how the Celtics are designed to play, and it’s how they win when they’re at their best. The only question is if they can keep replicating this formula.
Obviously, the Celtics have no room for error during this comeback attempt. However, there’s good news for them. Gabe Vincent is out tonight for the Heat, and surely, the crowd at TD Garden will be amped up and ready to go. From the Celtics point of view, you’re just one win away from getting the Heat to start questioning themselves, and putting pressure on themselves to end the series in Game 6. While the pressure is still on the Celtics tonight, they’re at home and are big favorites tonight. Of course, that didn’t help them in Games 1 or 2, but it’s still more favorable than being an underdog in tonight’s game.
The X-Factor tonight may be coaching. How does Erik Spoelstra react following a dud in Game 4? Will Joe Mazzulla successfully utilize his timeouts when he needs to? Only time will tell, but we can’t wait for tip-off tonight!