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Three takeaways from peak Celtics showing up, beating Heat in Game 4

Boston's season is still alive after a comfortable win during Game 4 in Miami, but this is what the Celtics do says Dan Patrick, as he wonders if the series could now go the distance and a full seven games.

Where have these Celtics been?

With their season down to a win-or-go-home Game 4 on the road, the “real” Boston Celtics — the team that made the Finals a season ago, the one that finished with the second-best record in the NBA and had dominating wins like crushing the Bucks on Christmas — showed up in Miami.

The result was a 116-99 Celtics win over the Heat that kept their season alive. Game 5 is back in Boston on Thursday night and is again win-or-go-home for the Celtics (who trail 3-1 now).

Here are three takeaways from Game 4.

1) Jayson Tatum showed up ready to play — even in the fourth quarter

Jayson Tatum was the best player on the court.

Boston needs that to have a chance and has been waiting, hoping for this Tatum to show up all Eastern Conference Finals. He did Tuesday night… eventually. He had three early turnovers before settling into the game but eventually found his groove.

Still the fourth quarter loomed — Tatum had not knocked down a bucket in the fourth quarter through three games. He was getting to the line a little, making a few plays, but he was not taking over like a top-four MVP candidate should.

After getting a little rest at the start of the fourth, Tatum came in for a Celtics team struggling against the Heat zone, and he instantly got the ball inside and hit a little jumper that started to swing the momentum. Soon everything came together and Tatum was a force, hitting 5-of-7 shots on his way to 11 points in the frame.

This was the Tatum the Celtics needed. Now they need him to show up for Game 5.

2) Where have these Celtics been?

It wasn’t just Tatum, this was the Celtics TEAM nobody had seen for a week.

Boston was defending, running (even on Heat makes), moving the ball to the open man, and most importantly hitting their 3s — the Joe Mazzulla Celtics need the 3s to fall to get a flow.

Boston shot 18-of-45 from 3 (40%), and with that everything worked. Mazzulla even called good timeouts.

The peak of the Celtics came in the second half when they started the third on an 18-0 run (they had another 12-0 run later).

Jaylen Brown scored 17 points, Derrick White added 16 and Grant Williams finished with 14 off the bench.

These Celtics have shown up at different points this season, what has been concerning is consistency. They need to show up the rest of the way, there is no margin for error now.

3) Like Gabe Vincent’s ankle, Heat say they are fine, ready for Game 5

Heat fans don’t need to stress. They still lead the series 3-1, it’s human nature to relax a little when far ahead in a series and comfortable, and the Celtics got hot from 3 but haven’t been consistent from deep all season.

More importantly, there’s the vibe from the team that wasn’t stressed about how they would handle the loss and avoid getting in their own heads.

“Do the same thing that I do, that we do, after every game. We are going to listen to some music. We’re going to drink some beers back there. We are going to go have some wine,” Jimmy Butler said. “I don’t think that you can just focus on basketball all the time. You have to be able to get away from the game a little bit. Think about it, but at the end of the day, you fall back on your habits, how consistent you’re going to be. Myself and my teammates, we’re going to do the same thing. We’re going to smile. We’re going to be in this thing together like we always are, and we are going to go get one on the road.”

“Our guys really want this. It just sometimes happens that way,” Erik Spoelstra said. “Offensively, we didn’t get into a great rhythm. Offense probably hurt us as equal as some things with our floor balance defensively. So we have some work to do to shore that up.”

Butler led the Heat with 19 points, Gabe Vincent had 17, and Caleb Martin had 16 off the bench.

The one area of concern was Vincent rolling his ankle in the second half. While he got it re-taped and returned to the game at the end, Spoelstra said it will be tomorrow before they have a good feel for if he can play in Game 5. Kyle Lowry is banged up, too, leading to some questions about guard depth.

But this is the Heat, you know they will come out in Game 5 focused, like they do every game. Miami fans don’t have to worry about consistency.