The season of the Boston Celtics in sweeping the Miami Heat did not end in the semifinal series in the Eastern Conference, and now there is a glimmer of hope.
Whether Boston’s 116-99 victory on Tuesday night was the start of a remarkable resurgence or just a momentary blip from what NBA history suggests remains to be seen.
Ultimately, the Celtics took their chances, becoming the NBA’s first team in 151 attempts to overcome an 0-3 deficit in a best-of-seven series from undefeated to iffy, heading into Game 5 Thursday night at TD Garden.
It’s good for a team that has spent most of its series looking like nothing more than the best secondary engine in the Eastern Conference.
“We don’t just have to go out and win another game. That’s the thing,” Celtics guard Mark Smart said. “We’re not taking it one game at a time.” We understand the odds are stacked against us, but he believes in himself no matter what. And we only have to go out and the only thing that matters is the next game.”
Much of what made the Celtics one of the best offensive and defensive teams in the league during the regular season was destroyed in three straight losses to open the series in Miami.
The Heat confused Boston in these games. He shut down Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, his leading scorers, while the Celtics scattered 3-pointers, a team that usually shuts down opponents from the 3-point range.
Boston showed hunger on both ends in Game 4, rallying with a flurry of turnovers to take an 18-0 lead in the third quarter. Led by Tatum’s 33 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, the Celtics outscored the Heat for 30 points from beyond the arc and turned 16 Miami turnovers into 27 points.
The Celtics also gave advice to follow.
“We have a long back fight,” Tatum said.
While the win gave the Celtics some life, the Heat can’t fault themselves for getting the job done. The game was close for three quarters and Miami only needed one win in the last three games to return to the NBA Finals.