Celtics fall to the Heat in season opener
The Heat received their championship rings before Tuesday night’s game, then decided to treat the next 48 minutes as a victory parade. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and a bevy of new bench options pounded the Celtics into submission on their way to a 120-107 victory in last night’s season opener.
The Heat scored 31 points in each of the first three quarters before holding on for the win, and the C’s lacked any of the defensive tenacity that has been a hallmark of the club in recent years. Wade scored 29 points, and James added 26 of his own plus 10 rebounds before leaving the game with muscle cramps. Rajon Rondo contributed a 20 point-13 assist double-double in the loss, while Paul Pierce added 23.
Incredibly, holding Wade and James to 56 combined points is usually a recipe to beat the defending champs. Not so last night, as new acquisitions like Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis came off the bench with guns blazing.
The Celtics’ new faces, meanwhile, had a tougher outing. Jason ‘Jet’ Terry never got off the ground, and finished with only eight points on seven shots. Jeff Green’s most notable contribution to the game was being thrown to the ground by the force of a Chris Bosh rejection in the second quarter. Jared Sullinger looked like what he is—a rookie.
The lone bright spot for the C’s bench came from an unlikely source: veteran Leandro Barbosa, who was added to the Celtics’ roster only a week ago. Barbosa blew up for 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting in the fourth quarter, and was a big reason the Celtics were within four points with two minutes to go in the game.
Another new addition, Courtney Lee, didn’t get his money’s worth on his five personal fouls but his hustle and shot-making ability should help the Celtics moving forward.
Of course Ray Allen would hit his first three-pointer in a Miami uni against the Celtics. And of course that would be his first shot attempt of the game, and of course it would be with the shot clock winding down in a close game. It couldn’t have happened any other way.
Another downer is the maturity—or lack thereof—that Rondo displayed in Tuesday’s game. He incurred a technical foul with the game’s outcome still very much in the balance to give the Heat a free throw, and he wrapped up Dwyane Wade for a flagrant foul in the closing seconds. He’ll need to work on his temper if he wants to be this team’s leader going forward.
The Celtics play their home opener this Friday, Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. against the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden. Tickets are still available here.