Celtics Overtime is a postgame feature providing analysis. Boston was defeated by the Miami Heat, 93-79, on Monday evening in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Play time is over. The real basketball has begun, and it doesn't look good for the Celtics.
LeBron James and the Miami Heat are not the Atlanta Hawks, and they certainly aren't the Philadelphia 76ers. They're a real basketball team with real talent (at least, James and Dwyane Wade) and championship aspirations that are actually on par with their talent.
After playing two rounds against mediocre opponents in Atlanta and Philly, it's starting to look like Boston has met its match in South Beach. James scored 32 and Wade added 22 points as the Heat smothered the Celtics, 93-79, to take a 1-0 lead in the East Finals.
Boston started the game about as poorly as possible, mustering only 11 points on 25 percent shooting (5-for-20) while giving up 13 points to James alone and 21 to the Heat as a team. The second quarter was a different story, though, and the Celtics put up a playoff best 35 second-quarter points to knot the score at 46 heading into the intermission.
James and Wade put the Heat on their backs, scoring 10 and six in the third quarter respectively to lead a 55.6 percent scoring attack that put Miami up 72-61 through three. The fourth quarter wasn't much different, with Wade scoring 10 and James scoring five.
Kevin Garnett finished with good numbers (23 points, 10 rebounds), but just like the Celtics' offense, he had plenty of misses, going 9-for-16 from the field. Boston was limited to 39.5 percent shooting (32-for-81). On the boards, Miami had a dominant 48-33 advantage, which given the Celtics' nature isn't surprising, and shot 50 percent (36-for-72).
This was a case of Boston being thoroughly dominated by a team that is simply better than it. Even in losing, the Celtics had their chances, and they likely will have plenty more opportunities this series. Unfortunately, the end result will likely be the same each time. Regardless of its starters' talent level, the Celtics do not have the bench that can carry the load while the stars are catching their breath. It looked as if the Celtics were already gassed midway through the second quarter. That simply won't do. As for stopping James and Wade, that is still the primary focus, and it's something they will absolutely need to do a better job of if they plan on winning some quarters, let alone entire games and the series.
However, if this keeps up, the Celtics have three very, very long games ahead of them.