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Three Takeaways As Tyler Herro’s Historic Game 4 Puts The Heat One Win Away From The NBA Finals

The Boston Celtics have once again found themselves in a dark place in their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Heat. After going down 2-0 to Miami last week, a high-profile locker-room dust-up after Game 2 dominated the headlines and raised serious questions about team morale.

They bounced back in Game 3 and had an opportunity on Wednesday in Game 4 to even the series, but that was not to be, as Heat rookie Tyler Herro had the game of his life, leading his team to a 112-109 victory over the Celtics and bringing them just one win away from the NBA Finals.

Here’s what we learned from a hard-fought Game 4.

Tyler Herro Submitted An Instant Classic Performance

The NBA Playoffs are where superstars are born, but they’re also the place where young players can announce their arrival, and few rookies have done so in more spectacular fashion than Tyler Herro did on Wednesday in Game 4. The 20-year-old sensation was unstoppable against the Celtics, leading all scorers with 37 points on the night, giving him the most points by a rookie in a conference finals game in league history.

Herro got it going almost from the opening tip, scoring 15 points before halftime, and was one of the only players on either team to find any sort of rhythm to start the game. From there, he was lights out, knocking down threes and getting to the basket at will to lead the Heat to a tough victory and prevent Boston from evening the series at 2-2.

Down the stretch, Miami continued to put the ball in Herro’s hands, allowing the rookie to take them to the finish line, with some help from timely Jimmy Butler buckets as well. It was an impressive showing and one that put all of Herro’s offensive talents on display, and his on-ball skills just add another dimension to the Miami offense.

Boston’s Bricks & Turnovers

We live in the age of the long ball, and as such, teams sometimes live and die by the three. That’s a given, but in this one, both teams struggled dreadfully from behind the arc. The Celtics shot just 40 percent from the field overall in the first half and 5-of-19 from three, and Miami wasn’t any better, shooting 4-of-18 from three and just over 40 percent overall before halftime. Herro was just about the only one with any consistency from the outside, and while Jayson Tatum and the Boston offense woke up to charge back to a brief lead, they simply couldn’t execute well enough offensively to stay on the front foot.

The shooting woes were one part of the problem, but turnovers ended up being Boston’s Achilles heel all night long. They coughed the ball up 19 total times in the game, 11 of which came in the second half, with several coming down the stretch. Credit some of that to Heat’s zone defense, which pestered the Celtics all night into poor decision making and contested shots.

Miami, meanwhile, didn’t commit a turnover in the fourth quarter until under a minute remaining and had just two total turnovers in the second half and nine for the game overall. Turnovers and rebounds are often looked to as key stats for good reason, and Miami’s ability to force turnovers and avoid them themselves allowed them to overcome a poor shooting night to get a win.

Jayson Tatum, Sleeping Giant

Jayson Tatum was at the center of the Celtics shooting drought through the first two quarters, going scoreless before halftime on 0-of-6 shooting, four of those misses coming from behind the arc. It was the first time that’s happened to Tatum all season.

Yet, Boston somehow managed to trail by just six points at the break, 50-44. That gave Tatum the room he needed to wake up and remember that there was a playoff game going on. And that’s exactly what he did, scoring 16 points in the third quarter and helping cut the deficit to 77-76 going into the final period.

He kept it rolling in the fourth quarter, finishing with a team-high 28 points to go along with nine rebounds and four assists, but ultimately, it wasn’t enough. Jaylen Brown (21 points, nine rebounds) and Kemba Walker (20 points, five assists) did their best to keep the Celtics afloat, but a nightmarish game from Marcus Smart, who shot 3-of-12 and committed four turnovers, only compounded matters.

The Celtics will try to keep their season alive when Game 5 tips off on Friday at 8:30 ET on ESPN, while the Heat will have a chance to punch their ticket to the NBA Finals.

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