Celtics limit Heat starters to fewest points in playoff game since NBA-ABA merger - jobs fights tigma
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Celtics limit Heat starters to fewest points in playoff game since NBA-ABA merger

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Celtics limit Heat starters to fewest points in playoff game since NBA-ABA merger

The pendulum has swung back in favor of the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, who evened the series at two games apiece following an historically dominant showing against the starting five of the Miami Heat in Game 4.

Or was it an historically poor performance from the Heat?

In either case, Miami’s starting five was held to a measly 18 points in Monday’s 102-82 loss at TD Garden, with two players (PJ Tucker, Max Strus) failing to score at all.

Celtics-Heat takeaways: Tatum, C’s defense deliver in Game 4 rout

Since the NBA merged with the ABA prior to the 1976-77 season, that’s the fewest points a starting five has combined for in a playoff game.

Jimmy Butler, who dominated the Celtics in Game 1 with 41 points, had only six in Game 4 on 3 of 14 shooting over 27 minutes.

Bam Adebayo, who starred in Game 3 with 31 points – not to mention 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals – mustered only nine points, curiously taking only five shots. The return of Robert Williams III may have had an impact there.

In his second game back from a hamstring injury, Kyle Lowry made just one shot from the field, a 3-point field goal for his only points of the night in 21 minutes.

While it was a night to forget for Miami’s starters, several players off its bench played well. Victor Oladipo, in fact, made some history of his own.

The only player drafted ahead of Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2013 to thus far play in an All-Star Game, Oladipo’s 23 points were more than all five Heat starters combined – the first time a bench player has outscored the entire starting group for a team in a playoff game since starters were first tracked more than 50 years ago. Oladipo was the only Miami player to play 30 minutes in the game.

Duncan Robinson, who played one season for the Williams College Ephs before transferring to Michigan, had his highest scoring game for the Heat since their postseason opener against the Atlanta Hawks, collecting 14 points on 5 of 11 shooting – 4 for 8 from 3- point range – in 23 minutes off the bench.

But the Heat were horrendous from the outset of Game 4, unable to ever make things even remotely interesting like the Celtics did after similar struggles in Game 3.

What does it all mean for Game 5 on South Beach on Wednesday? The Celtics, whose starters managed 73 of the team’s 102 points, did so without Marcus Smart in the lineup. Miami was missing a key role player of its own in sixth man Tyler Herro, however.

Do the Heat inject Herro into the starting lineup if he can return to action in 48 hours? Over 66 games in the regular season, Herro averaged a career-high 20.7 points per game, but started only 10 games.

What’s clear is that if Miami does not get a lot more from its starters in Game 5, this series may be closer to a conclusion than it appears.

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