The Miami Heat lost Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics in the first quarter.
The Celtics needed just 12 minutes to take firm control of the game. Boston came out flying with the energy of a team desperate to avoid a 3-1 series deficit. The C's jumped out to an 18-1 lead and finished the first quarter with a 29-11 advantage.
The Heat's starting five gave a horrendous performance. This group combined for just 18 points on 7-of-36 shooting. P.J. Tucker and Max Strus both scored zero points.
ESPN's Stephen A. Smith was highly critical of Miami's starters following Boston's 102-82 victory that evened the series at two wins apiece.
"Other than being pathetic, moribund and absolutely God awful, I guess you could give Boston's defense credit for that," Smith said on "SportsCenter". "But there is no excuse whatsoever for the No. 1 seed in the conference, a team that won 53 games this year, a team that's vying for a championship, your entire starting lineup combined for 18 points. I don't give a damn what kind of fouls the referees were calling in favor of Boston, who went to the free throw line 26 times to Miami's nine in the first half.
"Five starters have no excuse for combining for 18 points in a 48-minute game. That is beyond pathetic. It's one of those things where they should literally seek permission to get back to South Beach. They shouldn't even be allowed -- being that damn awful. So they've got some making up to do."
Jimmy Butler needs to play at an elite level for the Heat to win two of the final three games. But after missing the second half of Game 3 due to knee inflammation, Butler returned for Game 4 and played awful. He scored just eight points on 3-for-14 shooting, including seven missed shots in the paint.
Bam Adebayo dominated Game 3 with 31 points on 15-for-22 shooting. He scored nine points in Game 4. In fact, Adebayo has attempted six of fewer shots in three of the four games versus the Celtics. That lack of aggressiveness is hurting Miami in a major way.
The Heat have homecourt advantage with Game 5 and Game 7 set to be played at FTX Arena in Miami. But if they don't figure out a way to consistently score against the Celtics defense in the halfcourt -- especially when Robert Williams plays -- we probably won't see a Game 7 on Sunday.