Down 3-0 against the Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics saved themselves from elimination on Tuesday’s Game 4. In a 116-99 victory, yet another record-breaking performance from Jayson Tatum was the catalyst for the Celtics’ season living to see another game. However, no team in the NBA has crawled back to win a series after being down 3-0.
Tatum came to life with 33 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, a steal and two blocks. His four (4/9) made shots from beyond the arc helped him surpass Paul Pierce in Boston’s all-time playoff three-pointer list. While Tatum’s activity was not the only thing that got the machine running, it was the much-needed spark for a team on the brink of getting extinguished.
The team combined for 19 makes from three. And a late 16-9 run sealed the deal for Boston.
On the other hand–results aside– it was not a terrible evening for Jimmy Butler, who has steered the ship for Miami on the court throughout these playoffs. Butler’s 29 points, nine rebounds, and five assists were hard-earned. Role players stepping up have been a constant narrative for the Heat this season, and it continued on Tuesday as Gabe Vincent and Caleb Martin trailed Butler on the board with 17 and 16, respectively. Unfortunately, the Celtics’ defense came up big, eliminating Butler’s Robin in Bam Adebayo, holding him to a subpar 10-point and five-board performance. Combined with their efficiency from the field, they broke Miami’s hopes of sweeping their way to the NBA Finals.
Over the past two seasons, the Celtics are 4-0 in elimination games on the road. With that convincing performance, they have momentum as the series heads back to Boston. However, the Celtics are 4-5 at home this postseason compared to their 5-3 away record.
Questions continue to stack up as the outcome of this series continues to bake. Can the Heat put the nail in the coffin? Will this be the end of the Tatum-Brown tandem in Boston if they lose? Can the Celtics do what their crosstown neighbors in the Red Sox did in 2004 when they came back from being down 3-0 against the Yankees?
Do not be surprised if the Celtics win Game 5 at the TD Garden tonight. After all, they are the reigning Eastern Conference champions for a reason. If that happens, the Heat absolutely have to close the series out in Game 6. The last time the Celtics played a Game 7 at home, Tatum broke the scoring record in Game 7s, sending league MVP Joel Embiid and the 76ers home with a 51-point performance.
It is hard to argue against statistic that has stood the test of time. An 8th-seeded team advancing to the Finals has already happened before (1999 New York Knicks). Although, Butler’s Heat squad would be the first to do it in the Play-In era. As for Tatum and the Celtics, they are in a position to be the first in history to come back from a 3-0 deficit. Only 14 teams in NBA history have forced a Game 6 while trailing three-zip, and none of them made it out of those series.
Should the Celtics keep the series going, it would be another historical feat for this team and one of the NBA’s best young stars.