Four days of anticipation have passed since the Miami Heat punched their ticket into the 2nd round to match their talents against the Boston Celtics. The curtain opened on one of the most anticipated playoff series in recent memory with an anxious Heat team and a well rested Celtic bunch. The sea of “White Hot” Heat fans went home happy as Miami won Game 1, 99-90, behind the “Red Hot” shooting of Dwayne Wade and James Jones. Wade finished with 37 points and James Jones added a playoff career high 25 points. Boston was lead by Ray Allen’s 25 points and Paul Pierce’s 19.
The first quarter found both teams tentative in the early going with the feel of a heavy weight boxing match in the opening round. Defense ruled the quarter as Miami held Boston to just 25% shooting with 4 turnovers. Rajon Rondo picked up 2 quick fouls and had to sit during the latter part of the period which accounts for some of Boston’s struggles. Miami’s offense wasn’t much better. The Heat shot just 37% and if it wasn’t for Wade, who had 11 in the quarter on 4-6 shooting, the Heat might have trailed. Nevertheless Miami held a 20-14 lead as Mario Chalmers scored on a layup as time expired in the quarter.
The tide continued to turn towards the Heat when Rondo picked up his 3rd foul at 11:17 in the 2nd quarter. The Boston bench, who vowed to play better after a sub-par first round, had another rough start. Jeff Green and Delonte West struggled with their shots but Green’s struggles on defense keyed a Miami run. Green inexplicably left James Jones, the reigning 3 point shooting champion, by himself beyond the arc on back to back possessions and suddenly the Heat lead stretched to 12. Those Green lapses opened the flood gates for Jones who finished with 14 in the quarter. Boston was outplayed for most of the 2nd quarter and Miami’s defense was electric. With the Heat using LeBron James at power forward for much of the 2nd quarter, the rotations of the Celtics suffered mightily trying to rotate on defense especially with Glen Davis and Jeff Green on the floor during most of that stretch. One thing that was out of the control of the Celtics was the inspired play of Wade. Flash mesmerized the arena and more importantly the Boston defense with 23 points on 9-11 from the floor in the half. Miami’s fg% skyrocketed in the period to 53% as they took a 51-36 lead going into the break. Pierce, Garnett, and Rondo combined for only 8 points at half time while Allen was the only Celtic who had it going with 13.
Boston momentarily remembered who they were after Miami took a brief 19 point lead to open the 3rd quarter. The Celtics went on a 12-0 run to cut the lead to 7 at 55-48. The Heat turned the ball over 5 times in the first 5 minutes of the period and it looked like a ball game again. LeBron James got away with a travel and drilled a floater to stop the Boston run at 12 and then scored again on a pull up jumper to push the Heat lead back to 11. The game played back and forth for the next 3 minutes until a bogus flagrant foul call on Jermaine O’neal gave the Heat a 5 point possession. Jones hit both free throws on the flagrant and Bibby hit a 3 on the gift possession. With the pendulum again swinging in Miami’s favor it would seem Boston’s fate was sealed trailing 76-62 at the end end of 3 quarters.
The fourth quarter was evenly played for the first 4 minutes until James Jones head tackled Pierce with nothing than a mere personal foul as a result. Pierce foolishly took matters into his own hands pushing his head into the face of Jones. Double technicals were called as a result. A few minutes later, at the 7:00 minute mark of the quarter, Pierce got entangled with Wade on a down screen. A foul was called on Pierce then he and Wade had a brief verbal exchange resulting in another Pierce technical causing an ejection. That call was a tough one for Boston to overcome as Pierce had started to take on the offensive load with 17 in the half.
Wade would hit a 3 to give Miami a 90-74 lead following the Pierce ejection and celebrated with a vigorous fist pump signifying he thought his shot sealed the Miami win. Boston would respond to Wade’s outburst with an 8-0 run making the score 90-82 in favor of Miami. The Celtics would not be able to get any closer in their attempted comeback. Miami did indeed seal the win after LeBron stole the ball from Rondo and connected with Wade on a full court pass leading to a lay-up.
The Boston faithful will scream robbery over the less than stellar officiating in this game but it was Boston’s slow start, early foul trouble with Rondo and turnovers that were the culprits in this loss. Give the Miami defense credit. Miami scored23 points off 14 Boston turnovers and the Celtic bench played to a deficit to Miami’s bench in the 2nd quarter (where the game was essentially lost).
Miami wants this series badly, maybe too badly. The Heat intend to use physical play and their sheer athleticism to win the series. It took some extraordinary circumstances for the Heat to secure this 9 point win and I don’t think Boston came away impressed or intimidated. With seemingly everything against them Boston remained competitive and that alone is something to build on for Game 2 on Tuesday.
About the Author
Written by Warren Shaw
I am an avid Basketball fan who has worked for the New York Knicks, Alonzo Mourning Charities and various other sports organizations. Having covered many NBA and various professional sporting events has given me the opportunity to provide insight with an unbiased but flavor driven view. I look forward to providing NBA content and interacting with knowledgeable fans and readers. Follow me on Twitter @shawsports or Email your questions to me at Warrenshaw@prosportsblogging.com