After playing with little energy and no defense in the first 3 games, The Celts they eventually reverted to their defensive identity in Game 4 to force Game 5. The Celtics were mostly competitive in the first two games, going ahead in both games but losing the lead to lose Game 1 123–116 and Game 2 111–105. But in Game 3, the Celtics never competed and seemed to have already given up. So it was a nice surprise to see them play with some intensity and finally play defense in Game 4.
150 teams have lost 3-0 in a seven-game series in NBA playoff history. None of these 150s ever came back from 0-3 to win the series. 61% of the 150 teams (92 teams) were wiped out. 29% of the teams that avoided a draw (44 teams) lost the series in 5 matches. 11 teams lost in 6 games and only 3 forced play 7 but lost. So the Celtics face the difficult task of winning 3 more games and winning the series. It starts with winning Game 5 at home.
The Celtics are not about to give up. They held a team meeting after losing Game 3 and said they were all on the same page and ready to play together. Joe Mazzulla, after taking the blame for the match 3 demise, said he believed his players would pull it off. Al Horford said the Celtics are not out yet, if they find their defensive DNA, they can win the series. Jaylen Brown said that they will fight to the end and that they have to go out and play with pride. They showed their defensive identity and fighting in Game 4. Let’s hope they keep it up in this game.
There is a Boston precedent for coming back from a 0-3 deficit, although not the Celtics. in 2004 Boston Red Sox faced an opponent New York Yankees at ALKS. They lost the first 3 games of the series and were losing in the ninth round of game four. They came back to win the final 4 games of the series and then went on to sweep the St Louis Cardinals in World series get a title. With this Red Sox team, 4 hockey teams regained the title after losing 3-0 in the playoffs and won the title. However, no NBA team has ever achieved such a feat.
The Celtics once again have only Danilo Gallinari on the injured list, who is recovering from a torn ACL. Jaylen Brown has had some issues with his hand injury, but he’s dealing with them. Malcolm Brogdon has played through a partially torn tendon in his elbow and is expected to continue playing.
The Heat will miss Victor Oladipo this season after patellar tendon surgery in his left knee. Tyler Herro will also miss after breaking his right middle and ring fingers in the first round against Milwaukee. Gabe Vincent sprained his ankle in Game 4 but came back to finish the game. He is listed as absent from this game. I expect Kyle Lowry to start the game in his place. .
Probable Celtics starters
PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Derrick White
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Al Horford
Robert Williams III
Two way players
Danilo Gallinari (ACL) is out
Probable heat starters
PG: Kyle Lowry
SG: Maximum stress
SF: Jimmy Butler
PF: Kevin Love
C: Bam Adebayo
Two way players
Tyler Herro (hand) outside
Victor Oladipo (knee) out
Gabe Vincent (ankle) questionable
Jayson Tatum vs. Jimmy Butler
Butler is the key to Miami’s success. He struggled in Game 3, finishing with only 14 points, shooting 33% from the field and making only 1-of-7 three-pointers, but with little defense from the Celtics, the role players stepped up and came out victorious. Butler finished Game 4 with 29 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal and 1 block, but shot just 42.9% from the field and 23% from behind the arc. Jayson Tatum stepped up in Game 4 after struggling in the first 3 games. Even if Tatum doesn’t start out as a small striker, this is a matchup to watch.
Al Horford vs. Bam Adebayo
After playing very well in Games 1 and 2, Adebayo played a very quiet Game 3, finishing with 13 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 block. He also had a quiet game 4 with 10 points, 5 rebounds and 1 steal. He shot 57.1% from the field. He’s dangerous around the basket for goals and rebounds. The Celtics need to keep him off the paint as well as off the boards. When he’s aggressive, he can be a big problem.
Malcolm Brogdon vs. Caleb Martin
Martin has played very well in all 4 games so far. He had 18 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists in Game 3 while shooting 64.6% from the field and 57.1% from behind the arc. He also played well in Game 4 with 16 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 block. He shot 66.7% from the field and 40% on three-pointers. The Celtics need Brogdon to step up, and they also need to try to limit Martin in this game.
Defense “Defense will always be the most important key to winning any game, and in the playoffs it’s even more important. And the defense was the Celtics’ biggest loss in the first 3 games. We finally saw the Celtics return to their defensive identity in Game 4, and they need to continue their effort in that regard if they hope to win this game. In Game 4, the defense keyed the offense as they received timeouts and forced turnovers and ran for wicket baskets.
Bounce – As with defense, rebounding will always be the key to victory. A lot of rebounds are effort and rush, and when the Celtics put extra effort into rebounding, it usually translates to other areas of the game as well. The Celtics were off rebounds in both Games 1 and 2. However, they defeated the Heat 57–35 in Game 3, with 21 of those rebounds coming on offense. This was partly because the Celtics missed so many shots and the Heat hit most of them. The Celtics rebounded 44-39 in Game 4. The Celtics need to work harder on the boards than the Heat and win the rebound if they want to win this game.
Be aggressive The Celtics need to be a more aggressive team. For the first 3 games, they allowed the Heat to be more aggressive and play with more energy and effort. The Celtics need to be more aggressive in running to the basket, rushing for loose balls, boxing and rebounding, and they need to be a team that just plays harder. The Celtics need to be especially aggressive defensively. They have to support each other and again they have to play smart defensively.
Take care of the ball – In the first 3 games, the Celtics were careless with the ball and lost it too often. In Game 1, they had 15 spins for 22 heat points. In game 2, they again had 15 spins for 20 heat points. In Game 3, they once again had 15 spins for 18 heat points. In Game 4, they eventually reduced their spins to 10 which helped them win. Their defense, on the other hand, forced the Heat’s 16 losses to the Celtics’ 27 points. They have to make sharp passes and watch out for defenders who are very good at getting into the passing lanes. They must be careful when handling the ball, not to run into crowds and not to be sloppy with the ball. They just need to be more focused on avoiding losses.
home game – The home court has not mattered much to the Celtics in these playoffs. The Celtics are 4-5 at home in the playoffs and 5-3 away. The Heat are currently 6-1 at home and 4-3 away. The Celtics cannot assume they will win because they are at home as the Heat have already won two games in Boston this series. The garden needs to be as loud as in Game 7 to cheer the Celtics to victory in this game.
coaching – Much has been made of the coaching matchup between rookie coach Joe Mazzulla and the very experienced Eric Spoelstra. Joe Mazzulla was under scrutiny for his lineup decisions, no time-outs, and other coaching decisions in the first 3 games, but received credit for his decisions in Game 4. Spoelstra clearly got the upper hand in the first 3 games of the games, but Mazzulla came out ahead in the match 4. Which coach will make the right moves in this match?
Judging – Refereeing is always the x factor in any match. Each crew rules differently. Some call it tight, others let them play. Some favor the hosts. Some favor the road team. Some people just make bad, head-scratching calls. Sometimes officials have a agenda. The Celtics must adapt to the way the umpires control the game and not allow bad decisions and no decisions to knock them out of the game or affect their concentration. The Celtics just need to stop complaining about every call. Concentrate on the game, not the referees.