Tyler Herro is no longer unsung, and his Miami Heat are on the brink of the NBA Finals.
The 20-year-old rookie scored 17 of his career-high 37 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Heat to a 112-109 victory and a 3-1 series lead over the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals.
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His 37 points are the most by a 20-year-old in the playoffs since Magic Johnson’s 42 in 1980.
Only one other rookie has scored more than Herro and Johnson in a playoff game: Wilt Chamberlain.
“Herro’s shotmaking tonight was the difference in the game,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters.
“Herro was ridiculously good tonight. The rim must have looked like the ocean to him.”
Celtics fans need no reminder that Herro was potentially a coin flip away from being in Boston. The Heat won a tiebreaker for the 13th pick in last year’s draft, selecting Herro, who the Celtics reportedly coveted.
Boston drafted 14th, another win in Pat Riley’s corner against rival executive Danny Ainge.
Herro finished 14-for-21 from the field, converting half of his 10 three-point attempts and salvaging an otherwise abysmal offensive night for Miami. His Heat teammates collectively shot 35 percent.
“I’m just blown away,” Miami’s Goran Dragic told ESPN after Herro’s first 30-point game since high school.
“This kid is unbelievable. He’s not afraid of big moments.
“It’s not the first time he’s shown this kind of a game. We’ve known all season he can ball. You can see he’s an unbelievable talent.”
NBA pundits astounded by Tyler Herro’s performance
It wasn’t just Brad Stevens and Goran Dragic who were blown away by Herro’s heroics - the likes of Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade and Magic Johnson himself were among a bevy of NBA heavy-hitters to praise the rookie online.
“What I love about what Herro Ball is doing... We all know this isn’t just a hot game,” Wade posted.
“This is how he plays the game of basketball.”
Johnson, who Herro earned some comparisons to thanks to his performance, was equally effusive in his praise.
“Rookie Tyler Herro showed up and showed out!! He scored 37 points to lead the Heat to victory and Miami to a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals!” Johnson tweeted.
There were plenty of others giving the Heat rookie props.
What I love about what Herro Ball is doing... We all know this isn’t just a hot game. This is how he plays the game of basketball— DWade (@DwyaneWade) September 24, 2020
Rookie Tyler Herro showed up and showed out!! He scored 37 points to lead the Heat to victory and Miami to a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals!— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) September 24, 2020
Tyler Herro is something else. Amazing how many star-level shots he’s hit tonight. Showing it all.— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) September 24, 2020
Tyler Herro, future Finals MVP - as in two weeks from now?— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) September 24, 2020
Erik Spoelstra postgame, on Tyler Herro's scoring tonight:— Shane Young (@YoungNBA) September 24, 2020
"The context of those makes are the big separators in this league. Those were pressured shots. We had to step up against a really good defense."
Tyler Herro, way better pro than I or anyone expected him to be. And I thought he’d find a nice little role in NBA eventually too. Wow— Justin Beasley (@JBeasleyWSMV) September 24, 2020
The Heat seized a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals thanks to their victory, with a win in game five enough to send Miami to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2014.
Either the LA Lakers or Denver Nuggets will await after the Western Conference Finals.
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