Twenty-year-old Tyler Herro scored a Miami Heat rookie-record 37 points as the Heat beat the Boston Celtics 112-109 in the early hours of Thursday in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.
The win leaves the Heat a win away from the NBA Finals.
“He has a great competitive humility about him,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He has a confidence. He has a fearlessness that is uncommon. But he’s humble enough to work, to be coachable, to take the mentorship from the veteran players that we have on our team, and he just continues to gain more confidence as we go.”
Jimmy Butler scored 24 points, Goran Dragic added 22 and Bam Adebayo — dealing with a bit of shoulder soreness — had 20 points and 12 rebounds to help the Heat take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. They can close it out Friday night in Game 5.
This is the 12th time Miami has taken a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven series. The Heat won each of the previous 11.
Jayson Tatum scored all 28 of his points in the second half for the Celtics. They erased a double-digit deficit to take a one-point lead in the fourth — then saw the Heat run away again. Jaylen Brown scored 21 points, Kemba Walker added 20, Gordon Hayward had 14 and Marcus Smart finished with 10 points and 11 assists.
“I didn’t score in the first half. That’s unacceptable,” Tatum said. “I know I have to play better. That’s what I tried to do.”
Brown’s 3-pointer with 16 seconds left cut Miami’s lead to 107-104. Herro went to the line 2.1 seconds later and coolly swished a pair, stretching the lead back to five. The Celtics got within two points twice, Butler made a free throw with 1.1 seconds remaining, and Boston — out of timeouts — never got a desperation shot off.
Herro made 14 of 21 shots from the floor, 5 for 10 from 3-point range and became just the second 20-year-old in NBA playoff history to score at least 37 points in a game. The other: Magic Johnson, who had 42 in Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals for the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I feel good about it,” Herro said. “There’s a lot of work to be done still. We’re up 3-1.”
And the Heat rookie playoff record was 27 by Dwyane Wade in 2004; it now belongs to Herro, who scored 17 points in the fourth alone.
Daniel Theis scored with 8:44 left to put Boston up 85-84, the Celtics’ first lead since 25-24 with 11:19 left in the second quarter. It was Boston’s only lead in the second half and it lasted just 16 seconds. Adebayo scored to give Miami the lead, and Herro basically carried the load from there.
The Celtics shot exactly 8-for-20 in each of the first two quarters and that, combined with 11 turnovers, helped the Heat go into the break with a 50-44 lead.
But Tatum’s first basket after an 0-for-7 start sparked what became a 6-for-7 finish to the third quarter for him, he had 16 of Boston’s 32 points in that period and the Celtics were within 77-76 going into the fourth.
The Heat, behind their youngest player, wouldn’t fold.
“Nothing Tyler does surprises me,” Adebayo said.