Monday's NBA: Celtics torch Heat early, even series 2-2 with 102-82 blowout

Allen Jordan
The Detroit News

Boston — Jayson Tatum scored 31 points and the Boston Celtics took their turn pounding the Miami Heat early, jumping out to a 26-4 lead and cruising to a 102-82 victory that evened the Eastern Conference finals at two games apiece.

Miami missed 15 of its first 16 shots in the second straight game that was all but over after 12 minutes. The Heat led 39-18 after the first quarter of Game 3 of this bizarre series in which no game has been close down the stretch.

Game 5 is Wednesday in Miami.

Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, right, prepares to drive against former Wolverines guard Duncan Robinson, left, during the first half of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals on Monday in Boston.

Payton Pritchard had 14 points for the Celtics. Derrick White added 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists, and Robert Williams finished with 12 points and nine rebounds.

The Celtics led by 27 points in the second quarter and stretched their advantage to 32 in the third. Each game in this series has featured a lead of at least 20 points.

Victor Oladipo led the Heat with 23 points. Miami’s starting five of All-Star Jimmy Butler (six points), Kyle Lowry (three points), P.J. Tucker (no points), Max Strus (no points) and Bam Adebayo (nine points) were a combined 7 of 36 shooting. They all sat out the fourth quarter.

And the Celtics stymied the Heat without Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, who sat with a sprained right ankle he suffered in the second half of Game 3.

The Heat were without Tyler Herro, who suffered a groin injury late in Game 3.

Butler was in the starting lineup after missing the second half of Game 3 with swelling in his right knee. Lowry (strained left hamstring), Strus (strained hamstring) and Tucker (left knee irritation) all tested their injuries pregame before being cleared to go.

Boston’s Williams returned after missing a game with soreness in his surgically repaired left knee.

Even with their banged-up roster, the Celtics enjoyed their fastest start of the series. Starting in place of Smart, White scored the game’s first seven points as Boston took an 8-0 lead.

It quickly grew to 18-1, with Miami misfiring on its first 14 shots. The Heat didn’t get their first points until Adebayo’s free throw at the 7:56 mark. Miami made its first field goal at 3:22, a 3-pointer by Oladipo, and finished the quarter 3 for 20.

The Celtics took a 29-11 lead into the second quarter and led 57-33 at the half.

Smart ruled out

Celtics point guard and Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart was ruled out for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against Miami, joining Heat guard Tyler Herro on the sidelines for Monday night's game.

The Celtics said about an hour before the scheduled tipoff that Smart was out with a sprained right ankle. The Heat said Monday morning that Herro, who has a groin strain, would not play.

Boston Celtics' Marcus Smart come back on the court after leaving temporarily with an injury during the second half of Game 3 of the team's NBA basketball playoffs Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat, Saturday, May 21, 2022, in Boston.

Boston coach Ime Udoka said All-Star forward Jayson Tatum would play; he left Game 3 on Saturday with a shoulder impingement but returned to finish the game, which Boston lost to fall behind 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. Center Robert Williams III was also listed as available on the pregame injury report.

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Herro, who missed the final eight minutes of the Heat's 109-103 victory in Game 3, is one of several Miami players who left the game nursing ailments.

Miami Heat's Bam Adebayo (13) screens Boston Celtics' Marcus Smart (36) as Tyler Herro, left, drives   during the second half of Game 3 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals playoff series, Saturday, May 21, 2022, in Boston.

All-Star Jimmy Butler sat out the entire second half with swelling in his right knee. He was questionable for Game 4 along with Kyle Lowry (strained left hamstring), Max Strus (strained hamstring), Gabe Vincent (strained left hamstring) and P.J. Tucker (left knee irritation).

All will warm up with the intent to play, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.