In a series featuring plenty of star power, a 20-year-old rookie has emerged as the biggest hero in the Eastern Conference finals. Despite a valiant second-half effort from Jayson Tatum, the Boston Celtics once again fell to the Miami Heat, who now hold a commanding 3-1 series lead. Of course, Miami captured a critical win on Wednesday thanks to Tyler Herro. By dropping 37 points in a record-setting performance, the rookie sensation just sent a scary message about his NBA future.
Tyler Herro flashed exciting potential during the regular season
Following a solid freshman season at the University of Kentucky, Tyler Herro went 13th overall in the 2019 NBA draft. In his lone year with the Wildcats, the 6-foot-5, 195-pound guard averaged 14 points and 4.5 rebounds while shooting 46.2% from the field and 35.5% from 3-point territory.
Though he started just eight games during the regular season, Herro played an important role for a Miami Heat team that does not feature an elite star outside of Jimmy Butler. The 20-year-old Wisconsin native flashed exciting potential as a scoring option off the bench.
In 55 games, Herro averaged 13.5 points while playing just under 28 minutes per game. Though he shot just 42.8% from the field, the rookie knocked down 38.9% of his 3-point attempts.
Herro’s productive first season earned him a spot on the NBA All-Rookie Second Team. Entering the playoffs, he looked to take his game to another level for a Heat team that finished fifth in the Eastern Conference.
Herro sends a scary message about his NBA future
Despite being the second-youngest player in the Eastern Conference finals, Tyler Herro has played with the calm confidence of a seasoned veteran. And on Wednesday, he sent a scary message about his NBA future.
With the opportunity to take a 3-1 series lead, Herro provided one of the most dominant performances of the 2020 NBA playoffs. The Heat guard scored 37 points on 14-of-21 shooting. Herro knocked down five 3-pointers and became the youngest player in NBA history to score at least 37 points in a playoff game.
With the Heat shooting an uncharacteristic 27% from 3-point range, Herro’s record-setting night prevented the Celtics from tying the series. He even outdueled Tatum, who finished with 28 points after going scoreless in the first half.
So what does this mean moving forward? For Herro, he displayed the confidence and skill of an established star rather than an untested rookie. In doing so, he showcased that he has superstar potential, which only makes the Heat a more potent NBA title contender.
The 20-year-old aggressively attacked the defense and showed no hesitation in taking contested shots. Plus, he accomplished all that while coming off the bench.
If Herro becomes a permanent part of Miami’s starting lineup, he will have more opportunities to rack up points and improve other areas of his game. Considering he isn’t even old enough to legally drink, it’s scary to think about Herro’s growth potential. But for now, the Heat and their star rookie have to stay focused on the task at hand.
Can the Heat punch their ticket to the NBA Finals on Friday?
Thanks to Tyler Herro’s record-setting performance, the Heat can punch their ticket to the NBA Finals on Friday. Though the series has been a close battle, Miami still holds a commanding 3-1 lead over Boston. But can Herro and his team finish off a Celtics squad teeming with star talent?
Winning the turnover battle will be key on Friday. In Wednesday’s 112-109 win, the Celtics committed 19 turnovers. On the other hand, the Heat only had eight. Tatum turned the ball over six times, and Kemba Walker finished with more turnovers (four) than assists (two).
Boston must also do a better job defending Miami’s big three of Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic, and Bam Adebayo. That trio combined for 66 points, 26 rebounds, and 10 assists on Wednesday. Adebayo has thoroughly dominated throughout the series, particularly on the glass. The 34-year-old Dragic has averaged 21.8 points to go along with Butler’s 18.8 points per game.
Meanwhile, Tatum has shot just 24.6% from 3-point range through four games. Walker has shot just 33.8% from behind the arc. Jaylen Brown has been Boston’s most consistent player with rock-solid averages of 21.3 points on 58% shooting from 3-point territory.
However, the Celtics and their star-studded lineup face a monumental challenge in trying to come back from a 3-1 hole. Ultimately, Tyler Herro and the Miami Heat should represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA finals.
Who would have thought a 20-year-old rookie would swing the Eastern Conference finals?
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.