LeBron James, as always and especially since Chris Bosh has left the crusade for an NBA title, did much of everything, leading the Miami Heat to a very convincing Eastern Conference Finals Game 1 win over the Boston Celtics, 93-79.
So how was James in yet another game in which he simply took over on both ends of the floor, something quite mundane for the most talented basketball player on the planet? James finished with 32 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. He shot 13-22 from the field, continuing with the trend he and Wade set out to determine by scoring from the inside, scoring 42 points in the paint.
Dwyane Wade, like on many nights, needed a bit more time to settle down. He finished with 22 points and 7 assists, tearing up the Celtics’ defense in the fourth quarter, showcasing his Arsenal of impressive and acrobatic shots, accompanied by the no-fear attitude in which he drives to the basket with.
The only chance for the Boston Celtics to win these games, to win this series, is having Rajon Rondo at his best. Not just his point-guard best in terms of assists and triple doubles. But they need him to score, and a lot. Rondo was terrible in the first quarter and aside from a few good minutes in the second quarter, he wasn’t able to affect the game during long stretches. His 16 points and 7 assists don’t tell the real picture.
Kevin Garnett was the man for the Celtics during long stretches – with his ability to close down the paint (momentarily) and knock down jumpers on the other end. Like Doc Rivers stated in losses against the Sixers – He needs Garnett to score 23 points, but in the pain, not while hitting them from the outside.
Back to the Miami Heat, who got the guys they needed to step up - Shane Battier with a rare double double (10-10); Mario Chalmers with big defense on Rondo and 9 points; The hobbling Mike Miller with 8 points. Maybe the most important of the supporting group’s job is translated into the fact the Celtics scored only 5 fast break points and shot 39.5% from the field.
Talking about guys who must step up? Paul Pierce was annihilated by LeBron James, finishing with only 12 points, 5-18 from the field. Ray Allen is injured, hardly able to knock down open shots, let alone contested ones. He finished with 6 points, 1-7 from the field and 3-7 from the line.
The Heat won the game in the first and third quarters. Not just by the obvious necessary individual effort from James and Wade; They won with ball movement and a defense that simply didn’t stop moving, reacting very well to the Pick N’ Rolls the Celtics tried to get going with Rondo. The Heat set a new franchise record for postseason blocks with 11 rejections.
So is this 14 point win the real difference between the Celtics and the Heat? Boston tend to show a lack of respect for the Miami Heat and generally their opponents. Veterans swagger or something like that. It’s mostly about Garnett and Rondo. A bit about the complaining Doc Rivers, who never understands why he gets T’d up. Maybe he is doing something wrong.
The Celtics lost in the aggression battle and energy levels. They lost because they spent too much time playing selfish basketball and trying to force Pierce into the game while Rondo didn’t run things the way he and his team need him to. They lost the game because they couldn’t take their defense to the next level and do what seems to be impossible right now, stopping LeBron James.