The Boston Celtics beat the Miami Heat 88-80 to open the NBA 2010-11 season, making absolutely, positively sure the Heat don’t go undefeated this season.
But what do you take from a game like this?
If I could put it in a single sentence…It wasn’t pretty, but it was exciting more often than it was not. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra called it an “ugly game” and it was. But ugly is in the eye of the beholder and it was ‘ugly good’ for the Celtics.
But that doesn’t do justice to some of the other stories of the night.
- Shaq was a force for good when he was out there.
- Marquis Daniels played a sparkling game, except when he was asked to defend LeBron for a long period when Pierce went out in the 3rd quarter.
- Glen Davis played an outstanding game at both ends of the floor and hit a few big shots.
- Ray Allen hit most of the big shots.
- Paul Pierce hit the rest of them.
- Rajon Rondo was the floor general (17 assists) and set up a lot of the Celtic shots with ‘Only Rondo’ acrobatic drives and great court vision.
- Kevin Garnett struggled offensively, but played suffocating defense. Chris Bosh scored 8 points on 3 of 11 shooting.
- Lebron mows down Pierce, falls on him, and gets the foul call causing…
- Pierce to go out in the 3rd quarter with back spasms, only to return later and in so doing, stopped a Celtic energy and scoring slump.
“I don’t know if we win if he doesn’t come back.”
There were definitely periods of uninspired play by both teams. For a game with so much anticipation, after an initial burst of fan driven energy, play at times was a bit underwhelming. Some of that was the defensive intensity, some was a Celtic slow down, and some of that was just missed shots, especially by the Heat.
“I actually felt like I was in the playoffs – it was the same feeling and energy,” said Allen. “With those guys coming in here the fans were ready. I could hear them when I walked into the building getting on the other team.”
But the main thing is that the Celtics played excellent defense most of the game and they came through with numerous big plays and big shots whenever Miami got close. Miami was pressured and their shots were contested for most of the game.
Ray Allen led the team with 20 points and 5 big three pointers.
Ray Allen – Shot of the Game
The Celtics biggest lead was 19 points. The Heat slowly climbed back in and got within 3 points at 83-80 on a Lebron drive with 1:10 left on the clock.
That was when Ray Allen hit the biggest shot of the game, a three pointer on the left baseline on a feed from Pierce to ice things at 86-80 with 49 seconds left..
The Lead, The Comebacks, The Response.
The Celtics held Miami to just 9 points in their very first quarter together ‘live’. The Boston Stranglers continued their defensive domination in the second quarter getting the lead up to a surreal 41-22 with 2:13 left. You just knew this wasn’t going to continue for the entire game. Everything seemed slowed down and slightly unreal as if in a dream.
The Cs held Miami to 30 at the break while scoring 45 of their own. Miami was shooting an anemic 26.8% (11 for 41) at the half. It wasn’t just the Celtic defense. Miami missed a lot of open shots in that half as well.
Lebron finally broke through in the 3rd period with 15 points and with a Heat 12-3 run to end the quarter, got the lead down to 6 points at 63-57. The Heat further whittled that down to 4 points at 68-64 with 8:30 left before Boston pushed the lead back up to 13 at 83-70 with 4:13 left through the scoring of Davis, Pierce and Garnett.
Miami was feeling better about themselves now and surged again with 10 straight points to close with 83-80 with 1:15 left with scoring by James, Wade and Haslem.
James finished with 31 points to lead both teams. Dwayne Wade finished 13 points on 4 of 16 shooting. Thanks to the newness of playing together, a hostile Boston arena, and the Celtics defense, the Heat’s three stars were surprisingly ineffective.
I’m sure that will change and they will get better over the next few weeks. But as Doc Rivers said, so will the Celtics.
From the Celtics perspective, they played a good game against a very talented team. From The Heat’s perspective, the NBA probably put the Heat up against the one team that won’t be intimidated by their star power and thrives on defensive play and on their own court.
Not a good first draw.
But these teams will play three more times in the regular season and I’ve got the feeling that the games will look a bit different than this one did.
There is no talk of record seasons this year by the Celtics. But they are now 1-0 and they did it in impressive fashion.