Mateo’s Hoop Diary: Heat Drop Game 4 to Celtics in Miami

The Heat remain one win away from the Finals. It was favored by a point and a half to wrap up the series Tuesday but was gashed in a 17-point defeat for its first in Miami during the Playoffs. This Just In: Coach Joe Mazzulla prepared for the outing by watching Good Will Hunting instead of his thousandth rerun of The Town.

An L in Game 4 sends the group back into the wolf’s den with an opportunity to deliver Boston cold, hard payback for last year. The 2022 Celtics beat the Heat in its previous three games in Miami. Returning the favor is now the objective.

The White and Red came out as flat as a plasma screen in the second half after leading by six. The rest of the way, the hosts converted 35% of their attempts and 18.8% from behind the 3-point line.

Jimmy Butler was the entire offense coming out of halftime. He logged 15 points by attacking drop coverage, isolating Robert Williams III on a drive and canning an open triple. Yet, the Heat recorded just 22 points in the frame.

Jayson Tatum supplied 14 of Boston’s 38 third-quarter points. He later overcame his late-game stage fright. Marcus Smart unexpectedly turned into a threat behind the arc. Al Horford dismembered the Heat’s defense with his passing. And Grant Williams swatted Butler’s shot on the baseline after getting targeted on a switch.

At the postgame presser, Butler said the loss would build momentum for Miami.

“We got to play like our backs are against the wall,” Butler said. “But I think all year long, we’ve been better when we had to do things the hard way.”

He’s not wrong. The Heat lost the first play-in game to Atlanta on its home court, which set up a winner-take- eighth seed match with Chicago. Miami won the latter, then pantsed the Bucks and conquered the Knicks.

Remember, FanDuel opened with Milwaukee beating Miami at a -1200 line. Giannis Antetokounmpo got hurt 11 minutes in and only played in two more games, but the Heat took out the darlings in five. BetMGM slightly favored New York to go to the ECF, and it was sent home in six by the Heat.

For Game 5, the Heat need Bam Adebayo to rediscover his form so the Cs don’t continue to extend the series. Tuesday, Adebayo attempted seven shots but only one in 17 second-half minutes. I reckon the ball didn’t find him more because he didn’t have his hands up often after a screen.

In the fourth quarter of Game 4, #13 wasn’t looking at the basket with malicious intent. The best adjustment the Heat can make is having Adebayo crank up the RPMs to maximum levels. I’ll wager Miami’s marksmen will strike their targets consistently if the big man attracts doubles inside the paint.

Coach Erik Spoelstra said there wasn’t flow to the offense, and the Celtics capitalized on it.

Defensively, [the Celtics] took advantage of our ball holding, “ Spoelstra said. “We were late getting into our stuff. They have good individual defenders. We have to do this thing collectively, that’s when we’re at our best. And then dial into the transition and the threes…”

Butler said the team would listen to some tunes and down beers to regroup. Then he said the Heat would win on the road.

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