Heat look­ing to close out Celtics

Mi­ami one win from ad­vanc­ing to NBA Finals.

The Times-Tribune - - SPORTS - BY TIM REYNOLDS

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The vol­ume of text mes­sages that Mi­ami guard Tyler Herro got af­ter Game 4 of the East­ern Con­fer­ence finals was over­whelm­ing. He didn’t have time to re­ply to most, in­clud­ing close friends who reached out to cel­e­brate the best game of his life.

Among those who did get texts back from Herro: Shaquille O’neal and Dwyane Wade, a cou­ple of play­ers who know what it’s like to win an East­ern Con­fer­ence ti­tle with the Heat.

“Shaq hit me up, D-wade hit me up,” Herro said Thurs­day. “D-wade, we’ve talked a cou­ple times af­ter play­off games. He says ‘good game’ and gives me some tips on what he’s see­ing when he’s watch­ing.”

Herro and the Heat seem to be putting those tips to good use. They’re one win from the NBA Finals, lead­ing the Bos­ton Celtics, 3-1, in this East ti­tle se­ries with Game 5 — the pos­si­ble clincher — await­ing tonight at Walt Dis­ney World.

There was no cel­e­bra­tory tones at the op­tional Heat prac­tice Thurs­day. They know how close the se­ries has been, with per­haps the big­gest proof be­ing the com­pos­ite score of the four games — Celtics 441, Heat 441.

“You just have to con­tinue to try to get bet­ter as the se­ries goes on,” Heat coach Erik Spoel­stra said. “It’ll be two ex­tremely des­per­ate, ur­gent teams. That’s what it’s all about in the play­offs.”

The close­ness of the games works both ways:

While it serves as a rea­son for the Heat to be cau­tious, it also works as a rea­son for the Celtics to be op­ti­mistic. No Bos­ton team has suc­cess­fully ral­lied from a 3-1 deficit since 1981, though the Celtics have no rea­son to feel like they’ve been over­matched in this se­ries ei­ther.

“I be­lieve that if we put forth our best ef­fort, if we are locked in on what we need to ac­com­plish and we play with great author­ity and con­fi­dence, then we can win any given game,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “That’s what you have to go into any game with. You don’t play the score of the se­ries as much as you play the im­por­tance of each pos­ses­sion. I think that that’s the bot­tom line. We have to play each pos­ses­sion with the ut­most im­por­tance.”

Find­ing an an­swer for Herro is prob­a­bly of the ut­most im­por­tance as well.

The 20-year-old rookie scored 37 points in Mi­ami’s Game 4 win, help­ing carry Mi­ami on a night where Jae Crow­der and Dun­can Robin­son — two of the best 3-point shoot­ers on the Heat ros­ter — were a com­bined 1 for 14 from the floor, 1 for 11 from 3-point range.

“Herro got go­ing, ob­vi­ously, at a ridicu­lous level,” Stevens said. “But he’s very ca­pa­ble of that.”

Here’s some things to know go­ing into Game 5 on Fri­day:

Mi­ami could be the first No. 5 seed to ever make the NBA Finals. Lower seeds have got­ten there — No. 8 New York in 1999, and sixth­seeded Hous­ton in both 1981 and 1995 — but the Heat would be the first team seeded No. 5 to do so.

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