With the chance to take a 3-1 series lead against the Boston Celtics, the Miami Heat absolutely collapsed and were pummeled on Monday night in Game 4, losing 102-82. Erik Spoelstra's squad came out flat and had their worst first quarter of the entire season, getting outscored 29-11.
There are so many different players who are to blame for such an abysmal performance, especially when two starters in Max Strus and P.J. Tucker both posted goose eggs. The highest scorer on the Heat was Victor Oladipo, who actually had a nice game off the bench with 23 points. Bam Adebayo meanwhile was looking to put together another masterclass after erupting for 31 points in Game 3 but he compiled only nine points while the likes of Robert Williams and Al Horford bodied him inside.
Now, Miami heads back home looking to bounce back with authority. But first, let's discuss 3 players who failed to show up in Game 4 at the TD Garden.
3 Heat most to blame for Game 4 debacle vs. Celtics
One of the key pieces for the Heat in these playoffs has been Strus. He's averaging 11.4 points and 4.1 rebounds while shooting 35% from downtown in 15 postseason games, all coming as starts. Strus thrives especially as a shooter, showing the ability to get hot at any given minute. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case on Tuesday.
The undrafted guard played just 14 minutes and failed to collect a single point, going 0 for 7 from the field and 0 for 4 from three-point land. Oladipo saw extended minutes due to this and he flourished. Strus has stepped up and delivered all season for the Heat, but this was a forgettable showing for him.
Usually, it's Jimmy Buckets who is the reason Miami comes out victorious. One of the storylines in the playoffs is Butler's phenomenal play, averaging 26.5 points per contest. Well, in Game 4, the Heat star collected a mere six points in 27 minutes of action, shooting a putrid 3 for 14 from the field. It was only a matter of time until he had an off night, it's just bad timing since the rest of the rotation struggled immensely as well.
The Celtics did play good defense on Butler. However, he also couldn't hit a shot to save his life. The veteran is the one who sets the tone for the Heat. That simply didn't happen here.
Lowry missed a lot of the playoffs due to a hamstring injury but he's now played the last two games. To be frank, he's barely made an impact, though. The 36-year-old is averaging 6.4 points, 4.9 assists, and 3.4 rebounds while shooting a disappointing 23% from deep. Tuesday, Lowry posted a stat line of three points, five rebounds, and two assists. As the starting point guard of a team that is only two wins away from the NBA Finals, that's not good enough.
Yes, the Heat vet has taken on more of a playmaking and leadership role in South Beach since his arrival. That being said, attempting just six shots is not a recipe for success. Plus, he barely made an impact as a facilitator. Lowry's numbers across the board are substantially lower than the regular season. He must figure it out sooner rather than later because when it comes to the Finals, this type of production isn't going to cut it. There is the chance he's still not at 100% from the injury and if that's the case, Spoelstra may need to make a change.