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How it happened: A stunning and complete Celtics beatdown in Game 4 leaves the series tied

Jayson Tatum slammed home 2 of his 24 first-half points.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

The Celtics held the Heat to 11 first-quarter points and built a 24-point lead by halftime en route to a convincing 102-82 victory in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals on Monday in Boston.

The Heat did not score for the first four minutes, and only got on the board when Bam Adebayo made one free throw with 7:56 left in the first quarter. Victor Oladipo, thrust into a greater role because the Heat were without guard Tyler Herro, made the Heat’s first field with 3:22 left in the first period.

The series is tied, 2-2, with Game 5 on Wednesday in Miami.


Jayson Tatum led Boston with 31 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists to rebound from a poor showing in Game 3.

The Heat made just 3 of 20 field goal attempts in the first quarter. Miami’s top players – Jimmy Butler, Adebayo, and Kyle Lowry – were all held to single-digit point totals and two starters – PJ Tucker and Max Strus – both did not score. Oladipo led Miami with 23 points.

Boston was without guard Marcus Smart because of an ankle injury, but center Rob Williams returned to action and made an impact at both ends of the floor. Williams had 12 points to go with 9 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.

Below is the commentary, analysis, and observations posted as the game unfolded.

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Video: Watch highlights from Game 4 — 11:29 p.m.

Warning: Contents of this video may be disturbing to Heat fans.

Instant Analysis: Celtics’ defense was just too much for Heat — 11:18 p.m.

In danger of falling behind three games to one and heading to Miami for an elimination game, the Celtics instantly made it clear Monday there would be no let-up in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.


Their top-ranked defense suffocated the Heat during a first quarter in which more than eight minutes passed before Miami even made a shot, and they hardly let up after that, rolling to a 102-82, wire-to-wire win at TD Garden that evened this series at 2.

Read Adam’s full analysis of Game 4 here.

Shaughnessy: No one knows anything — 11:06 p.m.

By Dan Shaughnessy

We are four games into this bizarro Eastern Conference final and the only takeaway is that No One Knows Anything and it’s now a best-of-three with Miami holding home-court advantage the rest of the way.

Folks in these parts certainly think the Celtics are the better team and there was nothing on display at TD Garden Monday that would dispute that notion. In a wildly unpredictable series that’s seen sparse late-game drama and multiple beatdowns by both squads, it was the Celtics turn to freeze the Heat in a 102-82 Game 4 rout.

If the Celtics don’t win this series and advance to the NBA Finals, this will go down as one of the biggest blown opportunities in Boston sports history.

Read Dan’s full column here.

It is officially garbage time — 10:48 p.m.

With less than 8 minutes to go, the primary rotation players for both teams are all on the bench. This game has clearly been decided, and it was non-competitive from early on.

Finn: So what do we take away from this? Game 3 didn’t carry over. Does Game 4 carry into Game 5? It’s weird, the Celtics didn’t play all that well offensively tonight. But there was never any suspense. I suppose much of it still comes down to health, especially with Rob Williams, since he played so well tonight.


Another way to look at it — 10:30 p.m.

After three quarters, the Celtics lead, 76-52.

Yang: Honestly, looking at Boston’s box score alone, you might think the Celtics were losing. They are shooting 36.7 percent from the field and 16 percent from three. Jayson Tatum bounced back strongly, while Jaylen Brown is 5 of 20 for 12 points. The biggest bright spot is just six turnovers.

How bad can it get? — 10:23 p.m.

Yang: This game has lost most of its appeal, so my big question now is: Will the Heat eclipse 65 points?

For the record, the Heat’s lowest point total of the regular season was 78. Their lowest of the postseason is 79.

Finn: Is Udonis Haslem active? Because he has as many points as Tucker, Strus, and Vincent right now. They’re a combined 0 for 16.

Horford has played a heck of a game for a guy who has taken just one shot. He pushes the pace off every rebound. Pretty remarkable.

Strus has played like a guy who deserved to get beaten out by Javonte Green. (And he did. Green was better then.)

Should the Heat throw in the towel? — 10:09 p.m.

With 7:26 left in the third, the Celtics lead, 69-37.

Yang: I think I asked this question in Game 2 as well, but at what point does Heat coach Erik Spoelstra just call it? His team is banged up and down by 20-plus. Two of his most important players, Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry, are battling injuries and could use the rest. You never know what can get a team going, but, as Bob Ryan noted pregame, there seems to be little carryover from game to game. It might be worth it to wave the white flag, as bad as that would look.


Finn: If it stays like this in terms of margin, maybe around the 10-minute mark in the fourth? He probably should see if he can get anything out of Robinson, at least.

Yang: Speaking of pulling players, Robert Williams seems to be done for the night. He’s clearly still hampered by the soreness in his knee but has had a huge impact, scoring 12 points and grabbing 9 rebounds.

Finn: I was just going to ask you about that – they were saying on the ESPN broadcast that he was limping and that they should take a foul to get him out. But it wasn’t really obvious on TV.

Adebayo has just 7 points and 4 shot attempts so far. Rob Williams deserves a lot of credit for that too.

Considering the Celtics are up 30, am I wrong to be so annoyed at how Jaylen Brown has played tonight?

Yang: He’s lucky that this performance is coming during a blowout.

I think it’s time that Spo pulls his guys. There is no reason for Jimmy Butler to still be in this game, with his team down by 30.

The Heat are really bad tonight — 9:46 p.m.

At halftime, the Celtics lead, 57-33. Miami is shooting 27.5 percent, hitting on just 11 of its 39 field goal attempts. Victor Oladipo leads the Heat with 18 points. Jayson Tatum has 24 to lead the Celtics.


Yang: The Celtics aren’t even shooting that well — 39 percent from the field, 23.5 percent from three — but the Heat literally cannot buy a bucket, so Boston heads into the half up by 24.

Finn: Tatum is 12 of 14 from the line. The Heat are 6 of 9. Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, and P.J. Tucker have played nearly 37 minutes combined. They have scored no points.

The Celtics’ rebounding was huge in the first half considering they didn’t shoot particularly well (37.2 percent from field, 23.5 percent from three-point line). They grabbed 41 boards, 10 on the offensive glass. Rob Williams had 9, 5 offensive.

A very small red flag — 9:20 p.m.

Finn: Jaylen Brown hits a 3, his first make of the game after 7 misses. For as well as they have played, the Celtics are just 3 of 12 from 3.

Yang: Marcus Smart is on Boston’s sideline without a boot. Just like he did when he missed Game 1, Smart has remained engaged, encouraging his teammates and sharing pointers.

Finn: Victor Oladipo has 13 of Miami’s 23 points.

Thurston: Robert Williams is a game-changer defensively. Even Ryan invoked you-know-who from way back when ... Celtics haven’t had that.

Yang: I was going to challenge Chad when he said it would end up being more important to have Robert Williams over Marcus Smart, and I’m glad I didn’t.

Finn: Never challenge The Chad. (Wait until he is horribly wrong and point it out then)

Oladipo update: He now has 18 of Miami’s 28 points. I don’t think Oladipo would have 18 if Marcus were playing.

Celtics build big lead in first quarter — 9:11 p.m.

The Celtics limited the Heat to just 11 points on 3 of 20 shooting and lead, 29-11, after the first quarter of Game 4.

Finn: Al Horford hasn’t attempted a shot yet, but he’s having a tremendous quarter. Six rebounds, two offensive, a block and a steal, and he’s pushing the ball up the court himself when he gets a rebound. He’s taking on some of the ballhandling duties in Smart’s absence. Pretty impressive versatility from a 36-year-old big.

Thurston: Several Patriots in the house, including Devin and Jason McCourty, James White, Malcolm Butler, and Damien Harris, and they received raucous ovations and engaged the crowd.

Yang: One team has built a 20-point lead and gone on to win in every game this series. We’ll see if the Celtics can keep their foot on the gas.

How it’s going ... — 8:57 p.m.

Yang: The Heat still have not scored a field goal with 5:14 remaining in the first quarter. Victor Oladipo and Gabe Vincent are Erik Spoelstra’s first subs off the bench. If Duncan Robinson doesn’t see the floor tonight, then I imagine he’s firmly out of the rotation.

Finn: Celtics already have 18 rebounds, 4 offensive.  The Heat have 4 defensive rebounds. (And three team rebounds for Miami. Overall total is 18-8.)

Yang: And here comes Duncan Robinson... We’ll see if he can take advantage of these minutes.

Finn: Robinson is from York, Maine when he’s hitting shots, and New Hampshire when he isn’t.

How it started ... — 8:47 p.m.

With 6:44 left in the first quarter, the Celtics lead, 12-1.

Yang: Well, it took just one minute and 40 seconds for Jaylen Brown to turn the ball over because of a dribbling mishap.

Finn: Derrick White scores the first seven points, as everyone expected.

Yang: The Heat look all out of sorts on offense and have missed their first four shots. Not having Tyler Herro hurts even more because he generally is the guy that would provide an offensive spark off the bench.

Tough start for Jaylen Brown, who just picked up his second personal foul with 6:44 remaining in the first. He’s 0 of 5 from the field, despite having some open looks, and will likely now have to sit for a stretch.

Finn: Brown also has the Celtics’ only turnover.

A few pregame thoughts — 8:38 p.m.

Finn: You wish the Celtics had their whole lineup for such a pivotal game, but it’s probably more important to have Rob Williams tonight than Marcus Smart. The Celtics can’t let Bam Adebayo get going early again, and Daniel Theis is pretty close to unplayable against him. If Williams can play regular minutes, he should be a huge help.

Let’s tap the brakes on Victor Oladipo as some sort of Jaylen Brown stopper, too. He played well in his 20 minutes in Game 3, with four steals, but Jaylen should have been charged with lost fumbles on at least two of them.

Yang: Never a good look to be tweeting highlights mid-series, either.

We’ll see how that tweet ages.

Ime Udoka’s wife, actress Nia Long, is courtside. So is rapper Gucci Mane.

Starting lineups — 8:30 p.m.

Celtics: G Derrick White, G-F Jaylen Brown, F Jayson Tatum, C-F Al Horford, C-F Robert Williams III

Heat: F Jimmy Butler, F PJ Tucker, C-F Bam Adebayo, G Kyle Lowry, G Max Strus

Bob Ryan checks in — 8:16 p.m.

Yang: Globe legend Bob Ryan is in the house for Game 4. His pregame analysis: “There’s no carryover from game to game, but they’ll play better.”

Ryan still likes the Celtics to win the series, as long as Marcus Smart doesn’t miss an extended period of time.

Finn: Always listen to Bob.

Both teams are shorthanded — 8:14 p.m.

Yang: Each team will be missing a key player tonight, as Celtics starting point guard Marcus Smart (ankle) and Heat guard Tyler Herro (groin) are both out. Derrick White will start in place of Smart, while Miami will likely turn to a combination of their other role players to share Herro’s minutes.

Celtics center Robert Williams will be back in the starting lineup. Williams isn’t necessarily equipped to defend Bam Adebayo one-on-one, but his presence as a rim protector alone should at least make things a bit more challenging. Adebayo was a huge difference-maker in Game 3, scoring 31 points on a variety of shots and grabbing 10 rebounds.

Marcus Smart out because of ankle sprain — 7:29 p.m.

The Celtics declared guard Marcus Smart out for Monday’s Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals. Smart injured his right ankle in Saturday’s Game 3.

Jayson Tatum and Robert Williams were both listed as available in the update the Celtics sent at 7:22 p.m.

Injury report — 7:20 p.m.

From Gary Washburn at TD Garden, via Twitter: [Marcus] Smart and [Robert] Williams remain questionable. Getting tested over the next 15 minutes [posted at 6:47 p.m.]. #Celtics will make the decision at the final minute.

[Heat coach Erik] Spoelstra offers no more information than [Celtics coach Ime] Udoka. All of his questionable players besides [Tyler] Herro are working out with the intent to play. #Celtics #Heat

Home-court advantage? — 7:00 p.m.

By Adam Himmelsbach

It is not uncommon for a seven-game playoff series to have ups and downs, but usually they are somewhat predictable. For the most part, teams win at home and lose on the road, and the first to strike in a visiting arena claims a significant advantage.

But for the Celtics, who have one of the rowdiest home crows in the NBA, location-based results have been an outlier.

Entering Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Heat at TD Garden Monday night, the Celtics are 4-3 in Boston during these playoffs, and 5-2 everywhere else. The Heat, Warriors, and Mavericks, meanwhile, have a combined record of 20-3 at home and 9-12 on the road.

Read Adam’s full pregame post here.

Tonight’s referees — 6:48 p.m.

Per NBA.com: Crew chief - Scott Foster (48); Referee - Kane Fitzgerald (5); Umpire - Pat Fraher (26)

Pregame blather — 4:45 p.m.

What will characterize Monday’s Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals?

Often, games within a playoff series can be labeled for the player who takes over and dominates (remember the Grant Williams game vs. the Bucks?), or for the ways and means by which the winners take care of business.

In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals it was the dominance of the Heat’s Jimmy Butler (41 points) that led to a Celtics loss. Then in Game 2, it was the Celtics’ ruthless efficiency and accuracy (51.2 percent shooting, 20 of 40 three-point shooting) that led to a total blowout.

Game 3 was the turnover game in which 24 Boston giveaways pretty much handed a winnable game and a 2-1 series lead to Miami. It might have been the Jaylen Brown game for his 41-point effort, but he was also the one who committed the most turnovers with 7.

Will someone answer the bell tonight? The guess here is Jayson Tatum will look to rebound from a poor showing in Game 3 (10 points, 6 turnovers) and take over.

Herro out, Butler to play — 12:07 p.m.

By Adam Himmelsbach

Heat guard Tyler Herro, the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year this season, will miss Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Celtics Monday, according to Miami coach Erik Spoelstra.

Spoelstra added that All-Star forward Jimmy Butler, who missed the second half of his team’s Game 3 win, intends to play.

Read more here.

Nicole Yang can be reached at nicole.yang@globe.com.Follow her on Twitter @nicolecyang. Chad Finn can be reached at chad.finn@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeChadFinn. Scott Thurston can be reached at scott.thurston@globe.com.