Celtics defense shuts down Miami in Game 4

The Miami Heat shot the ball so poorly Monday night even Stephen A. Smith was flustered.

Well, granted, Stephen A. getting flustered is not exactly a challenging task. But at halftime the Celtics led Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals 57-33, thanks to a swarming defense that so pestered the Heat that Miami’s first field goal came with 3:22 left in the first quarter.

Victor Oladipo’s 3-pointer cut the Celtics’ lead to 18-4.

For the night, Miami hit 30 of 90 shots.

“They couldn’t hit the back side of the barn,” Stephen A. spluttered at halftime.

He meant, of course, that the Heat couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. Even Stephen A. can flub a metaphor now and then.

Miami’s meltdown was immediate and breathtaking. Before they’d worked up a drop of sweat, the Heat collectively wore the look of poodle trying to stare down a pit bull.

It was as dominant a performance as the Celtics could hope for in a game they absolutely had to win. Had Miami taken a 3-1 series lead, Boston’s chance of reaching the NBA Finals would have been nothing more than mathematically feasible.

The final score – Boston 102, Miami 82 – meant nothing. It could easily have been a 30-point spread, or more.

The pained expression Heat president Pat Riley showed each time the TV cameras found him could only have been more pitiable if it were accompanied by tears.

Miami’s starters combined to score 18 points. P.J. Tucker came in at zero points, as did Max Strus.

As a point of reference, Jayson Tatum outscored the Miami starting five 31-18.

Basketball sabermetricians (the abacus wielders are found everywhere) count this as the worst performance by a starting five since at least 1970, when such stats were first recorded.

Oladipo’s 23 points in 30 minutes off the bench led Miami.

When Oladipo is Miami’s leading scorer, Miami is not likely to win the game – or even make it a game.

For the first time in this series, the Celtics’ defense is praiseworthy. Al Horford scored a measly five points, but his 13 rebounds and four blocked shots set the foundation for the Celts’ domination of Miami’s end of the floor.

So, the series is down to a best of three, with the Heat hosting two of them.

If the Celtics’ defense makes it to Logan on time, playing in Miami won’t help the home team’s chances.

You May Have Missed…

A few thoughts …

Red Sox still look like a .500 team Floating down a lonesome stream of consciousness, hoping that ABC’s presentation of the NBA Finals achieves the worst ratings in the history of TV ratings … Two ...

Welcome back, Kyrie

Celtics sweep their way into NBA Finals Sweeps are the pedestals on which great teams reside. Sending stunned foes home for the summer by dismissing them in four games is what separates awe-inspiring NBA teams ...

Fresh Content Direct to Your Inbox