Heat Romp Celtics; The Hungry Take Game 1
Sunday afternoon failed to produce the same results the Boston Celtics had experienced the previous two Sundays. In their series with the New York Knicks, the Celtics had a nice comeback victory two Sundays ago, and last week, the Celtics closed the Knicks out in convincing fashion.
But this Sunday was different. This Sunday was the start of a new series, one that we have all been waiting for. Sunday was Game 1 of the Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat series, the one we have dreamed about since LeBron James made his “decision” last July. Game 1 certainly provided exciting plays, physical play, intense defense, intense emotions, and otherwise, great NBA playoff emotion. Unfortunately, it did not produce a great game, and Miami won 99-90.
For much of the game, the Miami Heat dominated the Celtics. After averaging just 13 points against the Celtics in their four previous meetings during the regular season, Dwyane Wade put up 38 points on just 21 shots against a Celtics defense that often holds high-scoring wing players to incredibly inefficient performances. Team-wise, the Heat led the Celtics by as much as 19 points in the third quarter. The Celtics made some runs here and there, and even got the lead down to 8 late in the fourth quarter after Paul Pierce had been tossed out of the game with his second technical foul. But in actuality, the Heat were never in danger of losing this game.
So why did the Heat prevail?
In what is sure to be one of the most scrutinized Round 2, Game 1’s in the history of the NBA Playoffs, here are three reasons why Miami won this game, and will likely go on to win this series.
#1. Dwyane Wade was unstoppable.
As I mentioned in our “Heat-Celtics” keys to victory post, Wade has to show up in order for the Heat to win this series. Now, 38 points in the series opener is certainly one way to do that. But in addition to that, Wade played “better” defense against Ray Allen, who despite scoring 25 points on just 13 shots, was at least pushed off the three-point line by Wade more often than he had been in their previous meetings. It’s unlikely that Wade’s jump shot will be as accurate as it was this game for the remainder of this series. However, if he keeps playing defense like he did, he can possibly minimize the damage that Ray inflicts upon the Heat.
#2. Where the hell was Kevin Garnett?
Listen, everyone is destined for a bad night, but Round 2 of the NBA Playoffs is not a time to play so below your averages that I don’t even recognize you. The Celtics started the game giving the ball to Kevin Garnett in the post. Garnett has the best matchup, scoring-wise, as Bosh shouldn’t be able to guard him down on the block—or at least hasn’t done so in the past. Yet, with Bosh on him for most of the game, Garnett was held to just 3 for 9 shooting, 6 points and 8 rebounds. Garnett did not get to the free throw line once, and for 37 minutes of play, Garnett looked like somebody else. Granted, he did do a pretty stellar job on defense, subsequently holding Chris Bosh to just 7 points on 3 for 10 shooting. But the Celtics can’t win this series if Garnett isn’t better than Bosh. We already know that the Heat have the best two players on the court. But if Miami winds up 3 of the best 5 performances in this series, it’s lights out for Boston.
#3. Paul Pierce can’t get abused…or thrown out of the game!
Maybe I wasn’t clear with my keys to victory. When I said that Paul Pierce couldn’t afford to get abused by LeBron James in this series, I didn’t mean he could just not play and get tossed out of the game. And while I wholeheartedly disagree with the referee’s decision to give Pierce a second technical foul (one the NBA says was given for taunting), Pierce never should have gotten that first technical—so I don’t exactly feel all that sorry for him. Before he got thrown off the court though, Pierce wasn’t spectacular. He had hit a couple of jumpers just before leaving, but he was a mere 6 of 14 for 19 points, had 4 turnovers and let LeBron play an extremely efficient game. Now that I’m sure my statements no longer need further explanation, the Boston Celtics are far more likely to win this series if Paul Pierce is on the basketball court.
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