In the end, it was all about poise. No matter which way you slice it. Dwyane Wade‘s lack of poise at the end to take a terrible turn-around three out of a timeout. Kevin Garnett‘s lack of poise to miss two potentially game-icing free throws and then commit an offensive foul on a moving pick. LeBron James‘ poise to knock down three point shot after three point shot in the fourth quarter. And finally, Ray Allen‘s poise to knock down that corner three to put the game out of reach.
The Celtics came out tonight and established early that they were going to completely smother the Heat wing players while clogging the lane enough to stymie their penetration. The Heat, meanwhile, appeared to think tonight was still the Preseason. Wade especially looked like he could have used a few extra Preseason games as he was absolutely abysmal. None of the Heat triumvirate looked like they knew how to play with one another. Is was extremely evident, on the other hand, that the Celtics were a team completely comfortable with one another.
At the end of the day, while this may be a great win for the Celtics, it’s just one game. The Boston Celtics are (1-0) and the Miami Heat are (0-1). Both have at least 81 more.
- First thing is first. So far, not a whole lot has change for the Celtics when it comes to the overall theme of their games. High turnovers (16), a dip in their play in the third quarter, and excellent defense highlighted by their never-ending set of rotations. The Celtics got out to a fast start, cooled off, and pulled it out in the end. In doing so, they sacrificed a 19 point lead and nearly ended up giving the game away to the Heat. The Celtics gave away a lot of double-digit leads last season and they have given one away this season. Does this become a trend or is this just opening night rustiness?
- The Celtics do not deserve all of the credit for nearly giving this game away. The Miami Heat heavily aided in this endeavor. As I mentioned before, LeBron James hit a barrage of seemingly uncontested three point shots (3-for-6) in the second half. Wade contributed one huge fourth quarter three point make on a step back move on Ray Allen and James Jones and Eddie House made another step toward resurrecting their careers by nailing three threes (Jones 2, House 1) in the second half.
- I may have mentioned that the Boston Celtics have so far followed the same script they did last year when it comes to game-flow. While this may be true, this is not to say that they have not employed new wrinkles to their offense. One that has carried through to the regular season from the preseason is the Rajon Rondo post-up. Rondo posted up Carlos Arroyo early in the third quarter and Kevin Garnett came away with an easy jumper. Last year, the Celtics often started games with trying to get Ray Allen or Kevin Garnett going by feeding them the ball a lot in the first quarter. Tonight, the Celtics gave the ball to Shaquille O’Neal twice. The result may have been two misses but the shots and decisions were both good. I actually expect the Celtics do this a lot. It may be their best chance to get the most out of O’Neal by giving him the ball when he is freshest. Couple that with the fact that Shaq will not see court time in crunch time, it stands to reason.
- In the first half, Miami’s defense was just awful. There were numerous occasions where Rajon Rondo was able to turn the corner, get into the paint, and have his pick of player on the perimeter. Paul Pierce and Allen were able to feast on open threes and the Celtics were able to stretch the lead to 45-30 at half time. Rondo also finished the game with 17 assists and he earned them.
- So far, Glen Davis has the lead in the “Charge-Taking” battle he is engaged in with Jermaine O’Neal. Davis played great finishing with 13 points and 5 rebounds on 6-of-7 shooting. O’Neal, on the other hand, had one point in 11 minutes. His one point came on a free throw, 1-of-2 free throws he probably did not deserve as it looked like he was cleanly stripped going up. O’Neal looks like he is playing with heavy legs and it will be really interesting to see if he loosens up as the season progresses. Right now it looks like the Celtics missed the boat on going hard after Mike Miller…
- Gadzooks! Boston finished the game with 41 rebounds! Boston out-rebounded a team?! Okay, so this was all to be expected. One of the Celtics biggest issues last year was rebounding and they made addressing this issue a priority this offseason. Not only is Boston in prime position to be a better rebounding team, but the Miami Heat are projected to struggle mightily in that area. Garnett had 10, O’Neal had 7, and Pierce had 9.
- There was a great exchange of plays in the second quarter. On one end, Dwyane Wade is called for a travel knifing his way through the lane. On the other end, Marquis Daniels gets Wade in a post-up and got Wade up in the air with an amazing up-fake and step through. The Wade move was probably not a travel but the Daniels move was far more fundamentally sound. Daniels moves slow slowly, he is more than able to lull his opponents into going for up-fakes.
- With four minutes to go in the first half, the Celtics look dominant. Rondo and Garnett execute a pick-and-roll and Eddie House finds himself guarding Garnett in a mismatch. Garnett takes advantage of this mismatch by shooting an easy pass over to Paul Pierce for a wide-open three. Pierce misses and no one blocks out Garnett has he goes up and nearly slams home a huge put-back. The ball bounces off the back rim and secured by Rondo who the kicks it out to Ray Allen for another wide open three. Swish. Whoah.
- I would have liked to see more of and more out of Nate Robinson tonight. I suspect I will. Especially if guys like Eddie House are in the game.
That’s it for now. Enjoy the win ladies and gentlemen because the Celtics will do it all over again tomorrow. More from Brian Robb later.
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