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Jayson Tatum, Celtics create 'new series' with blowout of Heat

Jayson Tatum, Celtics create 'new series' with blowout of Heat
Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (R) scored a game-high 31 points in a win over the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals on Monday at TD Garden in Boston. Photo by C.J. Gunther/EPA-EFE

May 24 (UPI) -- All-Star forward Jayson Tatum said the Boston Celtics created a "new series" with their dominant 20-point win over the Miami Heat, which evened the best-of-seven game Eastern Conference finals at 2-2.

Tatum scored a game-high 31 points in the 102-82 victory Monday at TD Garden in Boston. The Celtics rebounded from a Game 3 loss and prioritized limited turnovers and a better defensive effort to capture Game 4 and even the series.

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"I think obviously it's 2-2, so it's kind of like a new series, best of three," Tatum told reporters at his postgame news conference.

"Just having a conversation that I think human nature plays a part in, 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. I think we have to have that mindset going into Game 5, that it is a must-win game, because tonight was essentially something like that.

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"Everybody knew it. We could all feel it."

The Celtics out-rebounded the Heat 60-38. They also held a 32-8 edge in made free throws and went to the line 24 more times than their foes. The Celtics outscored the Heat 38-28 in the paint, led by as many as 32 points and never trailed in Game 4.

"They came out and jumped us," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "I think probably more than anything, our offense really hurt us at the beginning. We just weren't getting the kind of purposeful execution that you need to on the road. And then they were able to kind of get some relief points from that and get to the free throw line.

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"They jumped out to that lead and that was the story for the rest of the game."

Tatum and Celtics guard Derrick White scored 12 and 10 points, respectively, over the first 12 minutes. The Celtics went on an 18-1 run off the opening tip off and carried a 29-11 lead into the second quarter.

Tatum poured in another dozen points in the second, which was matched by Heat guard Victor Oladipo, but the Celtics carried a 57-33 into halftime.

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Each team scored 19 points in the third. The Heat outscored the Celtics 30-26 over the final 12 minutes of the blowout loss.

Oladipo scored a team-high 23 points off the Heat bench. The Celtics held Heat forward Jimmy Butler to just six points, on 3 of 14 shooting. Duncan Robinson and Caleb Martin scored 14 and 12 points, respectively, off the Heat bench.

Payton Pritchard scored 14 off the Celtics bench. White chipped in 14 points for the Celtics. Celtics guard Jaylen Brown and center Robert Williams scored a dozen points apiece.

"You have to take it one game at a time," Oladipo said. "You have to flush any game you just played and get ready for the next one.

"It's a seven-game series. So you can't really relax until you get four out of seven. We've got to watch the film learn from this and get ready for Game 5."

Game 5 will tip off at 8:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday at FTX Arena in Miami. The series will then return to Boston on Friday for Game 6. Game 7, if necessary, will be Sunday in Miami.

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