LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat caught fire in the second half and cruised to a 93-79 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Monday night.
James scored 11 of Miami’s 26 points in the third quarter and Wade dropped 10 of the Heat’s 21 points in the fourth quarter to close out the 14-point victory.
James finished with 32 points while grabbing 13 rebounds (both game-high’s) and Wade totaled 22 points while adding seven assists in the contest.
Miami’s perimeter role players were a huge factor in the Heat’s success. Shane Battier played a stellar game and helped out the Heat’s dynamic duo by adding 10 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots in the triumph. Mario Chalmers was good all-around as he tallied nine points, five rebounds and four assists in the game while also making things tough for Rajon Rondo on both sides of the ball. Mike Miller chipped in with eight points and three rebounds off the bench and hit both of his 3-point attempts early in the second period in a 82 second span.
Miami dominated Boston on the boards and outrebounded them by a 48-33 margin. They were also much more of a factor on the defensive end by blocking 11 shots in the game compared to Boston who as a team blocked just a single shot.
The Heat collectively just played a better game than the Celtics. Miami shot 50 percent (36-of-72) from the field overall, despite a putrid 20 percent display from behind the arc, and held the Celtics to under 40 percent shooting overall.
Kevin Garnett led the Celtics in scoring with 23 points and rebounding with 10 boards. Rondo was a rebound shy of posting a double-double and finished with 16 points, nine boards and seven assists. Paul Pierce was also in double-figures with 12 points but it took him 18 shots to get those points — he only made five baskets in the game and was two-of-four from the charity stripe. Ray Allen struggled throughout his 39 minutes of action and only managed six points. Allen was one-of-four from downtown, his lone bucket was a 3-pointer at the 5:56 mark in the second quarter, and was a shocking three-of-seven from the foul-line. Brandon Bass only amassed eight points on 4-of-11 shooting and added two rebounds in 34 minutes of action.
Miami jumped out to an early five point lead halfway through the first quarter then went on a 11-6 spurt in the remaining minutes and finished the period with a 21-11 advantage.
James set the tone early for the Heat with a strong baseline drive to score the first points of the game and continued his aggressive play throughout the quarter and finished with 13 points in the first 12 minutes and single handily outscored the entire Celtics team in the process.
The 11 first quarter points by the Celtics matched the lowest output by any team in the opening quarter this postseason. The other team to manage that few was San Antonio — which then dropped 32 on the Los Angeles Clippers in the second quarter of their game on May 19.
Boston did one better — actually three better. They stormed back in the second period and poured in 35 points collectively to tie the score, 46-46, heading into half time. The Celtics erased what was an 11-point deficit in the quarter and were carried by Rondo, Garnett and Pierce who together combined for 23 points.
Boston managed this comeback despite getting hit with three technical fouls in the quarter along with Allen missing four first-half free throws — matching his career worst for an entire game.
Allen was tagged with a technical after reacting from a called foul even though he walked away from the incident and never even gestured anything that would merit the call while coach Doc Rivers was also awarded a technical for saying what appeared to be “Come on Eddie” — referring to the ref who went whistle happy. Another technical foul, this one on Rondo, came in the third quarter.
With the game leveled at 50 points apiece, Rondo missed three shots in a 31-second span, the last of which was blocked by Battier who capitalized on his good defense with a 3-pointer 11 seconds later.
Battier’s shot sparked a 9-2 Miami burst that was highlighted by a touchdown pass from D.Wade to LeBron. Wade corralled the carom off a miss by Pierce, spun and delivered a pinpoint pass the length of the court to James for an easy score.
Miami’s momentum continued the rest of the quarter as they took a 72-61 lead into the last period. The Heat went up by 15 after two minutes of play in the fourth and coasted down the stretch for a 93-79 victory.
Miami leads Boston 1-0. Game 2 is Wednesday (5/30) at 8:30 PM (ET).