The Boston Celtics defeated the Miami Heat in convincing fashion in Game 4 of the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals on May 23 when they beat Miami 102-82. Once the Celtics started the game on an 18-1 run, they never looked back. After the game was over, NBA Champion and ESPN Analyst Matt Barnes went on to declare that Boston is the better team in this series if both teams were to ever be at full strength.
I feel like a healthy Celtics team is just better than this Heat team. This is not an overreaction. Again, this is a 2-2 series, but I just feel like, from the last game, they understood that if they just took care of the ball – although the Heat caused these turnovers – if they took care of the ball, it would be a different outcome.
Both Miami and Boston were dealing with injuries coming into Game 4. Marcus Smart was not available because of an ankle injury he suffered during Game 3. Tyler Herro was also not available because of a groin injury he too suffered in Game 3.
It remains to be seen if both teams will ever be at full strength at any point during this series.
Boston Has Struggled to Remain Healthy in the 2022 NBA Playoffs
Injuries are a part of the game and they always have been. Ever since the pandemic started back in 2020, contracting COVID-19 has also become a part of the game. During the 2022 NBA Playoffs, the Celtics have dealt with both injuries and COVID-19 exposure throughout their playoff run. Marcus Smart, Robert Williams III, and Al Horford have missed games because of it.
Smart had to miss Game 2 of Boston’s previous playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks because of a thigh contusion he suffered in Game 1. He then missed Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals because of a mid-foot injury he suffered in Game 7 of that same series against the Bucks. Smart recently missed Game 4 of the conference finals because of an ankle injury he suffered in Game 3.
Williams missed Games 1 and 2 of Boston’s first-round matchup because he was recovering from meniscus surgery. He then missed Games 4 through 7 of Boston’s next series against Milwaukee because of a bone bruise he suffered in Game 3. Williams’ bone bruise proved bothersome enough that he missed Game 3 of the conference finals because of it.
Al Horford has not suffered any injuries but he was held out of Game 1 of the conference finals because he was put in the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols.
Boston has managed to stay alive in these playoffs in spite of the hardship, but it has not been easy for them.
Smart and Williams Questionable For Game 5
Although they have tried to play through their injuries, Marcus Smart and Robert Williams III are not out of the woods just yet. On May 24, the Celtics released their latest injury report for Game 5, which lists both Smart and Williams as questionable because of their current injuries.
After Game 4, Williams told the media that his knee was fine after the game and that he’d simply wait to see how recovery goes afterward.
“The knee feels great, you know, feels good. Obviously, just checking on it tomorrow, see how it’s feeling recovery-wise.”
The Celtics will get a clearer picture of where Williams and Smart are at on May 25.