'Lost for words': NBA world stunned by playoffs 'nightmare'

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·Sports Reporter
·5-min read
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The Boston Celtics left NBA fans and the Miami Heat stunned with a game four beatdown in the Eastern Conference finals.
NBA fans were stunned as the Boston Celtics laid a smackdown on the Miami Heat in game four of the Eastern Conference Finals. Pictures: Getty Images

The NBA's Eastern Conference Finals have been thrown wide open after the Boston Celtics left fans stunned by issuing a historic beatdown to the Miami Heat.

The Celtics claimed a comprehensive 102-82 win to level the seven game series at two wins apiece, with the final score arguably flattering the top-seeded Heat.

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After stunning the Celtics on their home court in game three, the Heat were unable to conjure a repeat performance, suffering a historic humiliation in the first quarter that set the tone for the rest of the game.

Miami made just three shots in the first 12-minutes, with their first quarter total of just 11 points the least scored in a playoff quarter in franchise history.

Victor Oladipo came off the bench to top score for the Heat with 23 points, the first time since stats were recorded by ESPN in the 1970-71 season that a bench player has outscored all five starters on a playoff team.

The lead blew out to as much as 30 points in the third quarter, with Miami trimming the margin a little in garbage time.

NBA fans were stunned by Boston's intense defensive effort to start the game, and even more perplexed by Miami's inability to counter with a run of their own.

Both sides entered the game with injury concerns to key players, with guards Marcus Smart and Tyler Herro out for the Celtics and Heat respectively.

Miami's Jimmy Butler played despite missing the second half of game three due to a knee complaint, while Boston's Robert Williams also played through an injury cloud.

Commentator Mike Breen said he was 'lost for words' in describing Miami's collapse, with many fans on Twitter feeling the same way.

Celtics turn up the Heat in NBA Eastern Conference Finals

Jayson Tatum led five Celtics in double figures with 31 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

It was a mirror image of Saturday's Game 3, when the Heat led by 21 points by the end of the first quarter and as many as 26 points in the first half, only Miami never threatened to mount a comeback in Game 4.

Derrick White, starting in place of injured Celtics guard Marcus Smart (right ankle sprain), scored the game's first five points on Boston's way to an 18-1 lead.

White nearly outscored the Heat by himself — and Tatum did — in an opening quarter their team won, 29-11. Tatum, shaking off a sore shooting shoulder, scored 12 points in each of the first two quarters, and the Celtics took a 57-33 lead into halftime.

The margin would have been worse were it not for Victor Oladipo, who scored 13 of Miami's first 18 points and 18 of their first 28 — all off the bench — on 5-for-7 shooting (3-4 3P, 5-6 FT) through the game's first 21+ minutes.

Jalyen Brown and Jayson Tatum lead the way for the Boston Celtics in their beatdown of the Miami Heat.  (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jalyen Brown and Jayson Tatum lead the way for the Boston Celtics in their beatdown of the Miami Heat. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

Oladipo's teammates totaled only 15 points on 18/25/33 shooting splits through two quarters.

Gone was Boston's carelessness. Miami scored 33 points off the Celtics' 24 turnovers in Game 3. Boston limited those mistakes to just three in Monday's first half.

Absent was Bam Adebayo, who scored a Heat-high 31 points on Saturday. He had as many points (3) as turnovers in the opening 24 minutes of Game 4.

The return of All-Defensive center Robert Williams helped the Celtics lock up the paint, where the Heat made just 14 of their 45 attempts.

Even without Smart, the Defensive Player of the Year, Boston owned that end of the floor.

Scouting resulted in two early strips of Adebayo as he spun into post moves, and he disappeared. No one bit on Jimmy Butler's up-fakes, and Miami's two best players combined for 15 points.

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