The Heat fall short of the sweep in game 4 as Boston blitzes them.
Uneven showing for Heat’s main guys, and the offense is so reliant on them to create. And well, that bled into the defense.
Game 5 up next, but first here are some takeaways from game 4…
#1: The first quarter felt like a repeat of the series. But that was the only quarter.
Much like in game 3, you would expect the Boston Celtics to come out as the desperate team that they are to start the game. But well, it just felt like a re-run of much of the series. Not much adjustments aside from the Bam Adebayo on Marcus Smart factor, but the entire picture just felt like the Heat dictating everything. The switches they want, the pace to play at, etc. The Celtics obviously had their punches, but they’ve had those this whole series aside from giving up completely in game 3. My main early takeaway was that in a setting that you expect to be watching a completely new story in each and every game, as seen in the first two rounds, things have been rather competitive on the schematic front. But well, the last 3 quarters that fell apart.
#2: Are these big Caleb Martin games or is it just normal Caleb Martin?
14 points on 6 of 6 shooting. That was the stat-line of Caleb Martin as the team entered the half. Every game of the series he seems to take up a slot on my takeaways, but are we approaching the point where this is just normal activity? When I say 6 of 6 shooting, it’s not like his shots are easy at all either. Tough leaning threes, quick and swift attacks off close-outs: it’s just been an absolute individual masterclass from a 1-on-1 perspective. If the Celtics dip off, he makes them pay off the catch. If the Celtics chase him off the line, he has an attacking counter he will get to. From the guy that defenses help off of to the guy that is tearing defenses apart. Just rising by the day.
#3: Jimmy Butler’s defensive versatility.
Jimmy Butler has been the hub of this group all playoffs for obvious reasons. Not only by the way he keeps controlling offensively with everything running through him, but the way he mucked things up on defense in that first quarter. The reason it’s truly wild to see is the different ways he has been utilized on that end of the floor from series to series. Starting out against the Bucks, they threw a curve-ball to let his physicality lead on Jrue Holiday, and he played strong on his way to messing up their offense. Onto the Knicks, they put him on the guy they wanted to help off, and just let him go to work by helping down on Jalen Brunson into insane impact. Now against Boston, it’s been a flipping nature between Tatum and Brown, meaning not much room to linger. That’s been Bam’s job instead. Butler’s offensive control was just so rough in this one, that it bled into the defense. But still need to keep track of this timeline.
#4: Sensing fatigue for the Heat and fire for Celtics from deep.
The Celtics gave Miami a massive haymaker in the third quarter to really turn the tides. The Heat couldn’t seem to stop them due to the fact they were hitting the shots that Miami has been living with for much of the series. Marcus Smart threes, Grant Williams got hot, and Jayson Tatum finally started getting to the rim. What happened to the defense? The offensive struggles were bleeding into that end. Miami went minutes on end without scoring multiple times, and they were just totally out of rhythm and flow. But with that said, the biggest reason seemed to be fatigued. Short jumper after short jumper. They just couldn’t seem to get it over the rim and that screams tired legs. A lot of the time this league is the battle of outside shooting, and that third quarter was a perfect example of that. Also didn’t help when Butler was in and out of things for much of the first three quarters.
#5: The fourth quarter…
As the Heat walk into the quarter down 9, Butler was on the bench and the Heat needed a run. Duncan Robinson entered and the Heat leaned on him heavily for offense. Got some good attacks from Bam after pocket passes from Robinson, then a tough pass to Lowry down low forces a timeout. 88-83 with 9:40 to go. For some reason, Butler doesn’t enter right away and walks to the scorers table after the inbound, saving him…seconds? Boston runs off two quick buckets and we’re back in a timeout. 92-83 with 9 minutes left. And well, it slowly just grew from there. Threes kept falling for Boston, and the Heat offense was the part that was just completely it of whack to me. Also when the whole design revolves around on-ball Butler, you need him to be clicking. The others around him fully rely on the reactions to him defensively, and when he doesn’t have it, they won’t have it. Back to Boston for game 5.