Rookie Tyler Herro scored a career-high 37 points, Jimmy Butler added 24 and the Heat held back the Boston Celtics 112-109 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night near Orlando, moving Miami within one win of an NBA Finals berth.
Herro, 20, made 14 of 21 shots off the bench to continue his dynamic playoff run as the Heat got a 3-1 advantage in the best-of-seven series. Goran Dragic had 22 points, and Bam Adebayo included 20 points and 12 rebounds.
” Just attempting to get a rhythm going early,” said Herro, whose 37 points are the second most in a championship game for a gamer 20 or more younger (Magic Johnson, 42). “When you see a couple shots go down, the remainder of the game is easier for you. Tonight was certainly a good night.”
Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 28 points, all of it came in the 2nd half, and Jaylen Brown had 21. Kemba Walker scored 20, Gordon Hayward 14 and Marcus Smart had 10 points and 11 assists.
Miami will get the possibility to close out the series in Game 5 on Friday.
Unlike in each of the first 3 games, when the Heat fell back by double digits, Miami opened a 58-46 lead early in the 3rd quarter. Prior to that run, the Heat’s largest lead of the series was 8. Tatum, scoreless on 6 shots in the first half, came to life with 16 points in the period as the Celtics got within 77-76 going into the fourth.
” I wasn’t aggressive enough,” said Tatum of his sluggish start. “I needed to play better.”
Boston rose ahead for the first time considering that 11:05 of the 2nd quarter on a Daniel Theis dunk with 8:51 to go in the game. An Adebayo basket and five points from Herro to reach 30 on the night put Miami up 91-85.
“Not too many people get an opportunity to make it this far in the playoffs and be in a game like this, but for him it’s another day in the office,” said Butler of Herro. “… He’s been doing it all year long. To him, there’s no pressure or anything. He’s just going to keep playing basketball the right way.”
The Heat increased advantage to 98-90 on Herro’s 5th 3-pointer with 4:09 left. Brown hit a trey and Smart added a layup to get the Celtics within 3, however Dragic and Butler each made short baskets to increased the margin to seven.
After Tatum struck a trey, Dragic responded from deep and Herro included a layup to put Miami up by nine with 56.2 seconds staying. Boston got within three again on a Brown 3-pointer with 16 seconds to go, but free throws by Herro and Butler helped Miami hold on.
Hayward hit a pair of free throws to connect the score at 40 with 3:38 left in the very first half. The Heat reacted with a 10-4 run to lead 50-44 at the break.
The Celtics dedicated 11 of their 19 turnovers in the first half.
“We have got to do a better job of handling the ball and looking after it,” stated coach Brad Stevens.