The Celtics got off to a extremely sloppy start on both ends of the floor in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals and were unable to recover in the second half on their way to a 99-90 drubbing by the Miami Heat. Rumors of Dwayne Wade’s demise against the Celtics were greatly exaggerated as the shooting guard tore up Ray Allen and company on his way to 38 points on 14-of-21 shooting, bringing back memories of last year’s First Round series.
The three-headed monster of Wade, LeBron James (22 points) and Chris Bosh (7 points) James Jones (25 points, 5/7 3pt range, 10/10 FT’s) combined for 85 of Miami’s 99 points. James was average, if not inefficient in this one, while Jones had a career night burying open look after open look thanks to poor rotations/closeouts by Celtic defenders.
I’d also be remiss not to mention the ludicrous ejection of Paul Pierce by Ed Malloy in the 4th quarter for jawing with Wade after a hard foul. The “facerub” Pierce gave Jones on his first T was uncalled for, and was well worth a T and arguably could have warranted an ejection. However, the second T? A disgrace, as the Celtics slim chances of coming back were officially put on ice without their best all-around offensive player. That combined with Jermaine O’Neal’s joke flagrant foul in the third quarter highlighted an all-around spotty night for the playoff crew.
Make no mistake though, this loss was on the Celtics despite all the hoopla surrounding the Pierce dismissal. Limited ball movement, Rondo foul trouble, and overall impatience brought the C’s offense to a halt early as only 34 points were scored by Boston in the first half, while Miami broke open a 15-point deficit. Despite multiple runs in the second half, Boston got no closer than 7 at any juncture, thanks to 25 points off of turnovers by Miami.
We’ll break this thing down in full depth later on, but kudos goes to Allen for his lights out shooting (25 points), while concern must rest with Rondo’s passive game on the offensive end. No one else besides second half Pierce played particularly well overall on the offensively, but the team’s halfcourt defense for the most part was terrific for the majority of the afternoon, despite Wade’s lights out shooting.
There’s positive signs hidden in this one going forward that we’ll analyze here at the Hub, but for now the C’s find themselves in a 1-0 hole against LeBron for the second straight Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Whether they can dig themselves out of it once again remains to be seen. In the meantime, I anxiously await what Pierce has it store for us in Game 2.
Hayes is back with a full recap later tonight and we’ll break this baby down all day tomorrow as well.