On a night when you receive your title rings, you have to put on a show. The Miami Heat weren’t looking like they were going to lose at any moment to the Boston Celtics, with Dwyane Wade leading the way while LeBron James was dealing with cramps and Ray Allen had quite a warm welcome at his new home against his former team.
How good was Allen on his first night as a Miami Heat player? He took only 7 shots coming off the bench. But Allen played for 31 minutes, going 5-7 from the field and 7-8 from the line. What began with him trying shake hands with Kevin Garnett who decided to ignore him, later excusing it by being “intense” was soon Allen being at his best.
The Celtics couldn’t keep up with the Heat, especially in the first half, and Allen found himself open again and again. A team that didn’t add too many moving parts to its machine looked fine and geared up for the new season. Heck, even Mario Chalmers, not exactly your classic point guard, finished with 11 assists. The ball movement was just as fast as their defense usually moves when trying to close down lanes.
It was LeBron James’ night, before the cramps began. This isn’t the first time that the MVP has had cramps make life difficult for him. It affected his play during the NBA finals in one of the games, but Miami were still able to close out that one, with James hitting a big three that time before finally sitting down. This time, except for an alarming 11-2 run by the Celtics in the fourth quarter, it just seemed too much of a distance to cover. The Heat never really ran away with it beyond any doubt, but the Celtics never really got threateningly close.
Dwyane Wade led the way scoring 29 points. LeBron James followed with 26 points and 10 rebounds, playing only 26 minutes. Chris Bosh did great at center, scoring 19 points, grabbing 10 boards and adding 3 blocks, including one big one on Jeff Green that led to a James dunk the infuriated Kevin Garnett. The Heat were simply the tougher team for an entire game, and there was nothing the Celtics could do for a prolonged stretch to stop that from overwhelming them.
And Miami look like a much deeper team all of a sudden. Rashard Lewis coming off the bench to score 10 points is quite a privilege When you take off the undeserved $20 million he made each season over the past few years, Lewis is still a good player who can easily score in double figures each night. Less pressure and an adjusted role for him should do both sides a world of good.
And even if this night was eventually more about Wade taking over, as it’ll happen plenty of times in this regular season, unlike last year, this team was playing better when LeBron James was on the floor. The Heat outscored the Celtics by 20 points with LeBron James on the court, shooting much better and defending much better. Wade got a lot of attention at the end for two reasons: Becoming the 123rd player to reach 15,000 career points and having Rajon Rondo show some of his true colors with an ugly flagrant on Wade.
It was a punk play by him. The league will take care of it. He clotheslined me, with two hands. The Heat, at the moment, are just that much better than the Boston Celtics, and anyone else in the East for that matter.