Celtics beat Heat to avoid sweep, extend Eastern Conference finals

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (C) scored 33 points in a win over the Miami Heat on Tuesday in Miami. Photo by Rhona Wise/EPA-EFE

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (C) scored 33 points in a win over the Miami Heat on Tuesday in Miami. Photo by Rhona Wise/EPA-EFE

MIAMI, May 24 (UPI) — A sense of desperation fed the Boston Celtics, leading a ravenous offense to 27 points off turnovers and fueling a win over the Miami Heat to avoid an Eastern Conference finals sweep Tuesday in Miami.

The Celtics forced 16 turnovers in the 116-99 Game 4 victory at the Kaseya Center.

“It could have went the other way,” said Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, who scored a game-high 33 points. “We gave up some 3s and we turned the ball over.

“We just had to settle down a little bit.”

Game 5 of the best-of-seven game series will be Thursday in Boston. The Heat lead 3-1 and need just one win to clinch a spot in the NBA Finals.

“We didn’t play well in the first three games and we didn’t deserve to win, but we didn’t want that to define our season,” Tatum said.

Tatum totaled 11 rebounds and seven assists for the Celtics. The Celtics made 51.2% of their shots, while holding the Heat to a 43.6% clip. They also made 18 shots from 3-point range, while the Heat hit just eight shots from downtown.

“We had poise,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said. “The connectivity throughout the game, regardless of how it was going, never waned.”

Heat forward Jimmy Butler scored 29 points, including 15 in the third quarter of the loss.

“Both teams pride themselves on winning possession,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They won the possession game, transition game and rebounding game,.

“That’s tough to overcome.”

The Celtics held the lead for about five minutes to start the game before the Heat went on an 18-5 run to take control. The Heat shot 50% from the floor over the first 12 minutes and carried a 29-23 advantage into the second quarter.

The Heat held onto that lead for more than nine minutes.

The Celtics jumped back into the game with an 11-1 surge early in the second. The Heat and Celtics went on to exchange the lead six times in the quarter. The Heat outscored the Celtics 13-6 over the final four minutes of the first half to carry a 56-50 lead into the break.

Caleb Martin came off the Heat bench, made his first six shots and and scored 11 points in the second quarter,. Heat center Bam Adebayo scored 10 in the second.

The Heat pushed their advantage to nine points early in the second half. The Celtics exploded with 18 unanswered points over the next four minutes to steal back momentum and never trailed again.

They outscored the Heat 38-23 in the third quarter to carry an 88-79 lead into the fourth quarter.

Butler scored 15 points in the third quarter, while Tatum supplied 14 for the Celtics. The Celtics made seven 3-pointers and forced five Heat turnovers in the quarter.

The Heat cut the deficit to five 2:19 into the fourth, but the Celtics responded with a 12-0 run to put the game away. Tatum scored 11 points over the final 12 minutes.

Celtics forward Jaylen Brown and guard Derrick White scored 17 and 16 points, respectively, in the victory. Center Al Horford scored 12 points for the Celtics. Guard Marcus Smart chipped in 11 points.

“Now we just gotta go win another one,” Smart said. “That’s all that matters. We understand the odds are stacked against us, but we are a team that believes no matter what.”

The Celtics will host the Heat in Game 5 at 8:30 p.m. EDT Thursday in Boston. Game 6, if necessary, will be Saturday in Miami.

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