Heat All-Star Gets Brutally Honest on Team’s Lopsided Playoff Series

Victor Oladipo

Getty Victor Oladipo #4 of the Miami Heat reacts against the Boston Celtics in Game One of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals at FTX Arena on May 17, 2022.

Following the Miami Heat‘s devastating 102-82 Game 4 loss to the Boston Celtics on Monday, May 23, the team needs to take a beat and reflect on what’s causing this Eastern Conference Finals series to be so incredibly lopsided.

While the series is 2-2, each game has been completely dominated by either the Heat or the Celtics. During Game 1 and Game 3, Miami had leads of 20 and 26 points. During Game 2 and Game 4, Boston ran up leads of 24 and 32.

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Heat guard Victor Oladipo, the team’s only bright spot on offense against the Celtics in Game 4, who came off the bench to score 23 points, along with four rebounds and six assists, got brutally honest about the team’s uneven performances thus far, saying it was inexplicable.

“I don’t know how to explain it,” Oladipo said during the postgame conference on Monday night. “It’s wild, right?” I’m really not sure how to explain it. Just got to keep improving and keep playing hard. Figure out ways to win.”

Oladipo’s performance in Game 4 was all the more impressive considering he appeared in just eight regular-season games. While the former No. 2 overall pick from the 2013 NBA Draft did all he could to give the team an offensive boost, the Heat’s starting lineup, Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, P.J. Tucker, Max Strus, and Bam Adebayo, scored a total of 18 points.

With Tyler Herro, the NBA’s 2022 Sixth Man of Year sidelined with a groin injury, the 30-year-old guard was the first player off the bench on Monday night. The two-time All-Star made history in Game 4, becoming the first player in NBA history to come off the bench and outscore all five of his starters combined, per ESPN Stats & Info.

Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra also gave his perspective on the skewed series against the Celtics. For him, it’s not all that weird.

“Sometimes when you have two really competitive teams, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be a one-point game,” Spoelstra said during the postgame conference on Monday night. “It means that it can be flammable either way. Both teams are ignitable.”

Oladipo Is Confident the Heat Can Turn Things Around, Must Focus on Getting to the Foul Line More

Oladipo is confident the team can turn things around in Game 5. “I think we just got to be more physical. When you shoot a lot of jump shots, which we tended to do, it’s hard getting to the free-throw line. I think we have to be more of a forceful-type team, getting into the paint, not shying away from contact, and playing from the inside out.”

The Indiana alum also wants the team to take fewer jumpers so they can get to the foul line more. As for how they can do that, “I guess sell it more,” Oladipo said. “Continue to keep attacking and putting pressure on them and the refs. Hopefully we can get some of those calls. But just got to continue to do a better job collectively with everything on both ends of the floor.”

For Celtics All-Star Jayson Tatum, who put up a team-high 31 points on Monday night, 14 of those points came from the free-throw line, which Spoelstra commented on after the game.

“It wasn’t like the explosions that he’s had after some of the losses previously in the playoffs,” Coach Spo noted. “It was more about living at the free-throw line and being able to get us out of position.”

Heat Return to Miami for Game 5

Protecting homecourt will be of the utmost importance when the playoff series returns to Miami for Game 5. Here’s the remaining schedule for the Heat/Celtics Eastern Conference Finals:

Game 5: Wednesday, May 25: FTX Arena, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 6: Friday, May 27, TD Garden, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 7: Sunday, May 29: FTX Arena, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

READ NEXT: Erik Spoelstra Slams Celtics Guard for Dirty Play on Heat Star

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