If it seemed like the Boston Celtics were playing with an increased level of tenacity in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, there is a very good reason for that.
Speaking to reporters after the Celtics' 102-82 win over the Miami Heat on Monday, Jayson Tatum said "urgency" was his team's mindset going into the game.
"That was a focal point coming into this game, to just have a sense of urgency on both ends of the floor, from start to finish," Tatum added. "Really starting the game better, obviously, than we did last game. That's something that we talked about and something that we executed tonight."
Much was made going into Game 4 about how the Heat had only outscored the Celtics in two of 12 quarters through the first three games, but they still had a 2-1 series lead because they had a plus-46 advantage in those two quarters.
Monday was a little bit more of the same, with the Heat either tying or winning the final two quarters of the game. But Boston so thoroughly dominated the first half, including a 29-11 advantage in the first quarter, that the rest of the game didn't matter.
The Celtics were up 18-1 seven minutes into the first quarter. Miami didn't make its first field goal until Victor Oladipo's three-pointer with 3:22 remaining in the opening period.
Boston's defense held Miami's starting five to a total of 18 points. P.J. Tucker and Max Strus were held scoreless on 11 combined field-goal attempts.
Tatum, whose 10 points in Game 3 tied his fewest in a game this postseason, rebounded with 31 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the field. The 24-year-old also had eight rebounds and five assists in the win.
The Celtics have yet to lose back-to-back games in these playoffs. They are 5-0 after a loss and have outscored their opponents by an average of 17.8 points in those five games.
Miami lost consecutive games in the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Philadelphia 76ers. It rebounded with back-to-back wins in that series, including a 120-85 win in Game 5 after the series was tied at two games apiece.
The Eastern Conference Finals will shift back to Miami for Game 5 with the series tied 2-2. The Celtics and Heat will play at FTX Arena on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET.