Winning: The Miami Heat is on the brink of the NBA Finals and a 20-year-old rookie, who wasn't even a top-10 pick, is leading the way
Tyler Herro scored a career-high 37 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter, and the Heat beat the Boston Celtics, 112-109, in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday to move within one win of playing for a championship.
Herro's explosion gives Miami a 3-1 series lead in Lake Buena Vista and the Heat can advance to the Finals for the first time since 2014 with a win Friday.
In the final minutes, everyone from Jimmy Butler to Bam Adebayo to Goran Dragic chipped in key offensive plays. Herro, though, was the driving force on offense throughout, helping the Heat build a 12-point lead in the second half and helping Miami regroup after the Celtics took the lead in the fourth quarter.
Boston rallied in the third quarter after falling behind early in the period when Jayson Tatum finally heated up. The All-Star forward didn't score in the first half - it was his first scoreless half of the season - and finally got on the board on a three-pointer 6:48 left in the third to cut the Miami's lead to 70-63. In those final seven minutes of the period, Tatum scored 16 points on 6 of 7 shooting with two threes and two and-ones to trim the Heat's lead to 77-76.
With 8:51 left in the game, the Celtics finally went ahead when wing Jaylen Brown found post player Daniel Theis for an open dunk to give Boston a 85-84 lead. Adebayo answered to put Miami back ahead and then Herro took over to put away the Celtics.
Herro followed Adebayo's bucket with a three from the top of the key, then hit another shot to force Boston to take a timeout down 91-85 with 6:41 left. After the timeout, Herro assisted on an Adebayo hook shot, then drilled a 29-foot three with 4:09 left to push Miami's lead out to 98-90. The Heat had enough cushion to withstand every punch the Celtics threw in the final minutes, even when they got the lead down to 109-107 before Butler iced the win with a pair of free throws.
Butler finished with 24 points and nine rebounds, Dragic scored 22, and Adebayo chipped in a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Those performances all paled in comparison to Herro's
A little more than a year ago, the crowd at AmericanAirlines Arena booed when the Heat took Herro with the No. 13 pick in the 2019 NBA draft. He was impressive in his lone season with the Kentucky Wildcats, but his statistics weren't overwhelming, his three-point percentage wasn't spectacular and Kentucky wasn't the national championship contender it's expected to be on an annual basis. Herro had question marks, ranging from his defensive capability to his potential to be a fully rounded offensive player.
Herro already broke one of Dwyane Wade's records this postseason, scoring in double figures in each of his first 13 NBA playoff games as a rookie.
Now the wing joins Magic Johnson as the only 20-year-olds in NBA history to score at least 37 in a playoff game. He's also one of the most important pieces for a team on the verge of playing for a title at Walt Disney World's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
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