Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals was essentially a must-win game for the Boston Celtics. After being down 2-0, Boston had to win Game 3 to keep its season alive. While it was not an elimination game, no team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit.
The Celtics played great all-around basketball. They had four players score 20-plus points. They seemingly found a rhythm on offense, while Miami played terrible during the first three quarters. Despite missing many wide-open shots, the Heat found themselves in the game at the end.
Luckily for the Celtics, they were able to hold off Miami’s late surge and take Game 3 to push the series to 2-1 in favor of the Heat. With another crucial game set for Wednesday evening, here are three things to watch for during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.
The Miami Heat need to start out aggressive
One of the main things Miami Heat players have been pushing over the last three to four days has been the need to start out aggressive. The Heat were outscored 31-22 in the first quarter, which resulted in a 13-point deficit heading into halftime.
Boston was able to keep its lead and knock off one of the main points they needed to accomplish in Game 3. The Heat can not sustain what they have been doing. Playing from behind is hard to do every single game.
Jimmy Butler was one player from the Heat that received criticism after their 11-point loss Saturday night. He has developed a reputation for showing up in the fourth quarter. However, the first three quarters are a different story.
If the Heat want to win Game 4 and take control of the series, they need their star forward to show up throughout the whole game. It has been a huge talking point within the Heat’s locker room and they need to back their talk up.
Can Jaylen Brown continue to step up after strong Game 3 outing?
Jaylen Brown played one of the better games of his career last Saturday night. He had 26 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals while hitting on 11-of-17 attempts from the field. Brown’s defense also played a major role in Boston’s run toward the end of the second quarter.
In every facet of the game, Brown had an impact and showed his worth to the Celtics. He will play a huge role in the results for the rest of the series. It will be important for him to continue this type of performance if Butler starts playing aggressive right off the bat.
How realistic is it for Boston to have four guys score 20-plus each night? Not very likely, but Brown’s impact on the game can go further than the box score shows. When he is at his best, the Celtics are at their best.
Can Kelly Olynyk step up his game?
Olynyk has been incredibly quiet during the first three games of the Eastern Conference Finals. Through three games, Olynyk only has a total of 12 points in 36 minutes. He is one of Miami’s best bench players and is crucial to its success.
Olynyk shot 0-for-6 from the three-point line in Game 3 and only has three made threes during the whole Eastern Conference Finals. While rookie Tyler Herro has been the main contributer off the bench, he needs a second man to become that scorer with him.
Kendrick Nunn is the other shooter off the bench that can consistently score 10-plus on a nightly basis, but he has struggled during the NBA Playoffs. If Olynyk can improve his shooting, him and Herro will become the extra scoring off the bench that Miami needs.
Eastern Conference Finals schedule and results
Game 1: Heat 117 – Celtics 114 (F/OT)
Game 2: Heat 106 – Celtics 101 (F)
Game 3: Celtics 117 – Heat 106 (F)
Game 4: Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020, 8:30 pm EST (ESPN)
Game 5: Friday, September 25th, 2020, 8:30 pm EST (EPSN)
Game 6*: Sunday, September 27th, 2020, 7:30 pm EST (ESPN)
Game 7*: TBD
(* if necessary)
Coverage of tonight’s Heat and Celtics game starts at 8:30 pm EST on ESPN.