Twenty-year-old rookie Tyler Herro scored a career-high 37 points as the Miami Heat took a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night in their Eastern Conference Finals series with a 112-109 victory.
In a game that played out mostly as a tight, defensive battle that saw neither team able to shoot the ball particularly well until the second half, Herro’s – pun fully intended – heroics as well as the strong play of Miami’s usual big trio of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic, who combined for 66 points, proved too much in the end for Boston.
Here are a few takeaways from yet another highly-competitive, highly-entertaining game between these two sides that now has Miami just one win away from a trip to the NBA Finals.
In 1980, Magic Johnson scored 42 points to set the record for the most points scored by a rookie under the age of 21.
On Wednesday, Herro inserted himself as No. 2 on that particular list with his 37-point eruption.
Herro went 14-of-21 from the field, including a ridiculous 5-for-10 shooting from three-point range and was oozing confidence from every fibre of his being, knowing he was the best player on the floor despite being the youngest.
His performance on Wednesday night was an extreme example of the excellent post-season he’s been having, in general, scoring no less than 11 points in all 13 Miami playoff games so far.
The No. 13 overall pick in last year’s draft, Herro’s head-turning plays have to be making many a general manager regret not taking a chance on the sweet-shooting guard from Kentucky.
He looks like a star in the making.
A tale of two Tatums
Though Herro was the best player on the floor Wednesday night, Celtics star Jayson Tatum was a pretty close second – it just probably took him too long to get his engine revved up perhaps.
Tatum finished with 28 points in Game 4, and it all came in the second half.
In the first half, Tatum looked to lack some of his trademark explosiveness off his first step and his shot was looking crooked as he went 0-for-6 from the field and 0-for-4 from three-point range.
Then in the second half, he appeared to find his game again and was, essentially, duelling with Herro on the Heat to keep the Celtics in the contest, shooting an outrageous 10-for-16 from the field and 4-for-7 from deep.
The result of the game obviously wasn’t what Tatum wanted, but there’s seemingly no denying his talent in this series. He’s balled out all series long, and he’ll have at least one more game to show the world just how good he actually is.
Possible Bam injury?
There were a lot of good vibes for Miami with the Heat going up 3-1 in the series and Herro having the game of his life – so far – but of concern was the sight of Adebayo holding his wrist and grimacing in pain.
He told reporters after the game that he was “good” and that he just twisted his wrist and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he’s “icing it,” but Adebayo has probably been Miami’s most consistent performer. He’s the team’s best all-around defender – both as a rim protector and in the pick-and-roll – and on offence his ability pass from the top of the key or in the post and his lethal rolls to the rim with Dragic have been nearly impossible for the Celtics to stop.
Adebayo’s health is of the utmost importance for Miami’s success, and his status will be something worth closely monitoring ahead of Game 5 on Friday.
Celtics on the brink
It’s been the story of this series played out once again on Wednesday as the Celtics had their chances, but ultimately let them slip, this time due to their own carelessness.
The Celtics turned the ball over 19 times total and seven times alone in the fourth quarter.
That’s not good enough and it has Boston on the brink of elimination.