The most hyped opening night game ever had a playoff-like atmosphere and intensity, but only a preseason-level of basketball.
The Boston Celtics weathered a furious third quarter rally from LeBron James and survived 20 turnovers to win 88-80 against the Miami Heat Tuesday night at the TD Bank Garden.
Both teams were noticeably nervous during a sloppy, funky first quarter in which the Heat scored just nine points. To put that into perspective, Miami didn’t score fewer than 12 points in a quarter last season.
In the first quarter, Rajon Rondo alone looked like an NBA player, scoring one basket and assisting on the other six Celtics scores. Rondo scored just four points but engineered the Boston offense with 17 assists.
Offensively, Miami looked like they didn’t even have a playbook during the first half. James had five turnovers, Dwyane Wade added four himself, and Boston took a 45-30 lead into the half.
Boston maintained a 15-point lead midway through the third quarter until James caught fire and carried the Heat back into the game. After Paul Pierce was injured in a collision with James and left the court, James scored 11 points and tallied an assist over the Heat’s next eight possessions, closing the gap to six at the end of the third quarter.
Pierce (surprise, surprise) returned from the locker room and lead the Celtics to the win with 11 fourth quarter points, including two huge three-pointers that stretched the lead out to nine at critical junctures. Miami kept coming though, cutting the lead to three with just over a minute left after a corner three from Wade and a smooth baseline drive by James.
On the ensuing play, however, Ray Allen drove baseline, kicked the ball out to Pierce, kept running to the opposite corner, then received a pass from Pierce and drilled the game-icing three with 48 seconds left. Allen led the Celtics in scoring with 20 points on five three-pointers.
Boston will have no time to enjoy the victory as they head out to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers tomorrow night at seven.
Shaq’s Debut Shaq played 18 minutes in his debut as a Boston Celtic, recording nine points and seven rebounds. Shaq had two thunderous first quarter dunks on great passes from Rondo.
Boston Bench Mob Glen Davis was the leader of the bench mob, tallying 13 points and five rebounds. Marquis Daniels added eight points for a bench that combined for 26 points.
LeBron Watch 10-21 FG, 31 points and eight turnovers.
Wade Watch 4-16 FG, 13 points and six turnovers.
Bosh or Bust? Where the hell was Chris Bosh, who was supposed to benefit so much from playing with LeBron and Wade? Bosh made only three of his 11 shots, scoring eight points and grabbing eight rebounds.