On Saturday, the Boston Celtics fell to the Miami Heat, 109-103.
— NBA (@NBA) May 22, 2022
With the win, the Heat retook the series lead.
Miami seems to be in control of the series, but the Celtics can come back.
Before we take a look at how Boston has a chance, let just review what we have seen thus far.
It was an odd game from both teams’ perspectives.
Miami went from having its largest lead of the series to being up one point in the fourth quarter.
Jimmy Butler was not on the court for the second half due to right knee inflammation.
Meanwhile, Boston has won 10 of the 12 quarters this series and is down, 2-1, in the series.
They then scored 31 points in the fourth quarter.
However, it was not enough for them to get their first home victory of the series.
Miami’s 39-point first quarter was enough for the Heat to get just six wins away from a championship.
The Eastern Conference Finals are seemingly going to be a long series, but injuries may end up telling the story.
So, can the Celtics come back against the Heat?
How Can The Celtics Come Back?
Tatum has been neutralized by P.J. Tucker thus far in this series.
It is not easy for the Celtics to succeed without Tatum playing well.
Here is how the Boston star has performed when guarded by Tucker in 2021-22:
Jayson Tatum has been guarded by PJ Tucker for 127 possessions this season (regular season and playoffs).
He has scored 15 points in those 127 possessions. pic.twitter.com/iiM6G8mRyC
— StatMuse (@statmuse) May 22, 2022
For Celtics fans, it may seem like Tatum has been inconsistent at times.
On the bright side, another Celtics star had some poor offensive performances during Boston’s last championship run:
Some stat lines…
5-14, 3 turnovers, loss
2-14, 6 turnovers, loss
6-17, 1-2 free throws, loss
5-15, 6 turnovers, loss
3-14, 4 turnovers, loss
2-14, 3 turnovers, loss
These were six of Paul Pierce's games during the 2008 playoff run which he ended as Finals MVP. https://t.co/J6VVU45pzJ
— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) May 22, 2022
The Celtics’ last Finals MVP had some bad games during the 2008 playoffs.
Jaylen Brown picked up the slack in Game 3 of the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals.
He had his playoff career high in points.
Brown scored 40 points on 14-for-20 shooting.
He also added in nine rebounds.
Unfortunately for the Celtics, it was not enough.
Miami’s defense has been the difference.
Erik Spoelstra and his coaching staff are an impressive bunch.
Both coaching staffs are dealing with quite a few injuries though.
Heading into the very-important Game 4, plenty of players are hobbled:
#NEBHInjuryReport for Game 4 vs. Miami:
Sam Hauser (right shoulder instability episode) – OUT
Marcus Smart (right ankle sprain) – QUESTIONABLE
Jayson Tatum (right cervical nerve impingement) – PROBABLE
Robert Williams (left knee soreness) – QUESTIONABLE
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 22, 2022
Smart and Williams may miss yet another game.
Either absence would be significant for the Celtics.
Meanwhile, for Miami, the team’s injury report is even longer:
#MIAvsBOS INJURY UPDATE: Jimmy Butler (knee), Kyle Lowry (hamstring), Max Strus (hamstring), Gabe Vincent (hamstring), P.J. Tucker (knee) & Tyler Herro (groin) are all listed as questionable to play in tomorrow's Game 4 vs the Celtics.
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) May 22, 2022
With the series being played every other day, it has not been easy for the teams to stay healthy.
For the Celtics to come back, it will take better performances by Tatum, who will hopefully not miss any games.
In addition, it will require protecting the basketball.
If Miami approaches 19 steals again in this series, it could be it for Boston.
The Celtics are in need of better offense.
They cannot allow live-ball turnovers and easy buckets for Miami.
That recipe should lead to a Celtics comeback.