Rookie guard Tyler Herro starred in his great night since he arrived in the NBA, scoring 37 points, six rebounds and three assists that left him at the forefront of the Miami Heat, who beat the Boston Celtics 112-109 last night. in the fourth game of the Eastern Conference finals.
The victory puts the Heat to a 3-1 best-of-seven record and just one more to reach the NBA Finals for the first time since they last did so in 2014, when they had star forward LeBron James with them. Game 5 of the series will be played on Friday on the same stage in the Orlando bubble.
Along with Herro, just 20 years old, who made 14 of 21 shots from the field, including 5 of 10 triples, and was perfect with 4-4 from the personnel line, another guard, the starter and All-Star Jimmy Butler contributed 24 points, including the last three for the Heat in the final 10 seconds of the game that secured the Heat’s victory, and also grabbed nine rebounds.
Herro became the second 20-year-old player in NBA playoff history to score at least 37 points in a game. The other was the legendary Magic Johnson, who had 42 in Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals with the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I feel good,” declared Herro at the end of the game. “There is still a lot of work to do. We are up 3-1 and it is good, but there is nothing defined. The Heat’s rookie playoff mark in one game was held by fellow guard Dwyane Wade when he scored 27 points in 2004.
Slovenian point guard Goran Dragic reached 22 points as the Heat’s third leading scorer, in addition to capturing five balls under the hoops, delivering three assists and recovering two balls. While center Bam Adebayo was once again the best of the Heat in the inside game with a double-double of 20 points, 12 rebounds – nine defenders – he also distributed four assists, and recovered two balls.
Once again the suspense was maintained until the end with two teams that made merits so that either of them could get the victory. Again, the team that played the best defense in the final stretch of the game and also scored the decisive goals and this was Miami’s team with Herro and Butler, leaders, who made the difference.
Forward Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 28 points, but he scored all of them in the second half, in addition to grabbing nine defensive rebounds, giving four assists, recovering one ball and putting up three blocks.
Tatum tied 0-for-6 in the first half, with no points, the second-worst offensive performance as a professional. The Celtics’ star forward was 0-of-8 to start against the Dallas Mavericks on Nov. 11, and 0-of-6 against the Milwaukee Bucks in the first two periods of a playoff game on April 17, 2018.
Although the Celtics came back from a deficit of more than 10 points in the second half and took the lead (85-84), in the end they could not prevent the Heat from reimposing their scoring efficiency and great defense.
Guard Jaylen Brown scored 21 points, including four 3-of-seven attempts, and grabbed nine rebounds, all defensive. While point guard Kemba Walker added 20 points with five assists, forward Gordon Hayward, who returned with the team as reserves, reached 14, and point guard Marcus Smart contributed a double-double of 10 points and 11 assists.
Brown’s 3-pointer with 16 seconds left reduced Miami’s lead to 107-104. But Herro hit the line 2.1 seconds later and coolly scored a couple of points, putting the lead back to five.
The Celtics got within two points a couple of times, and Butler scored the second of two personnel pitches he made with 1.1 seconds to go and left Boston with no option to attempt a last shot from outside the perimeter by not having and no downtime to request and stop the clock.
Dragic hit a triple with 8:51 left in the third quarter for a 58-46 lead, Miami’s first double-digit lead in the series. The Heat’s biggest lead in the first three games was eight points.