Sports Back-and-forth nature of Eastern Conference finals continues with Celtics'...

Back-and-forth nature of Eastern Conference finals continues with Celtics’ Game 4 rout of Heat | Opinion

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BOSTON – If the trend in the Eastern Conference finals continues, the Miami Heat will come out the more aggressive team in Game 5 on Wednesday and beat the Boston Celtics for a 3-2 series lead.

In a conference finals that has yet to produce one excellent game from start to finish, the Celtics demolished the Heat 102-82 in Game 4 on Monday, atoning for their uninspired loss in Game 3 which followed the Heat’s dreadful performance in Game 2 which followed Boston’s bad second quarter, bad loss in Game 1.

Given how both teams have played in losses, they look incapable of winning the next game. Yet, that’s what happens.

It’s not just been a back-and-forth series with neither team able to win consecutive games, it has oscillated wildly from game to game with drastic point differentials.

Miami led by 20 points in Game 1. Boston was up 34 in Game 2. Miami led by 26 in Game 3 and Boston was up 32 in Game 4.

“There are these extreme highs and lows particularly when you have two teams pretty evenly matched,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

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For a 2-2 series in the Eastern Conference finals that has been distilled to a best-of-3 between the top two seeds, the matchup has not been compelling.

In the Western Conference finals, if the trend continues, Golden State will finish off Dallas in a sweep on Tuesday.

The conference finals in different ways have been duds. There have been really good team and individual performances, but not from both teams in the same game especially in the East. Of the seven conference finals games, not one has been decided in the final seconds.

In the first 27 minutes of the Boston-Miami series, there were three lead changes, and in the next 165 minutes, just one lead change over 3½ games.

Spoelstra had his view of the series.

“Outside of these crazy runs, you have two really competitive teams,” he said. “The scores and that kind of thing doesn’t really give the true indication of how competitive it is. It can get away from either team at any time. That’s what you saw tonight.”

Boston has responded to their five playoff losses this season with a victory. It’s not a surprise they established control of the game from the start. After Game 3, Celtics big man Al Horford described the Heat as a wounded animal. In Game 4, the roles are reversed. It is a pattern through four games.

“When you win a game you can relax a little bit, but obviously when we lose a game, we feel like the next game is do-or-die, and then we come out and play like we did,” said Boston’s Jayson Tatum , who had a game-high 31 points.

But even in victory, the Celtics still had a weird game. They shot less than 40% from the field and less than 25% on 3-pointers, yet won easily.

“It’s an inconsistent series from both teams at times, and it’s an odd one, honestly, when you look at some of the numbers tonight – the way we didn’t shoot or play offense that great and having a 30-point lead,” Udoka said.

The Celtics need to find a way to replicate that performance after a win, while the Heat vowed to be better on Wednesday.

“Sometimes when you have two really competitive teams, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be a one-point game,” Spoelstra said. “It means that it can be flammable either way. Both teams are ignitable.”

The Heat, who did not have one starter in double figures, were torched.

“Whatever they have done to us, we can do to them,” Spoelstra said, adding, “We can do some things that can make the other team look a little sideways, as well.”

It’s the Heat’s turn to see if they can do that to the Celtics again.

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