All the brash talk is over with, and Miami fans have to live with the reality.
The reality is, the Boston Celtics came out tonight looking sharp and ready to play, while the Heat, especially two of its superstars, looked as rusty as a piece of tattered steel that’s been sitting in the rain for a year.
There were moments when Miami, and LeBron James in particular, gave fans reason to believe the Heat could still pull out a win, but they were only false hopes, as the boys from South Beach looked less like a Superteam, and more like a super disappointment as they took a loss in their season-opener to the Celtics, 88-80.
One of the biggest reasons for the downfall of the supremely-hyped team comprising the “Three Kings” was the poor shooting of both Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Wade ended the night with just 13 points on 4-of-16 from the field in nearly 37 minutes of play. He connected on only 1-of-3 from beyond the arc, and was 4-of-6 from the foul line. He also had four rebounds and six assists, but totaled six turnovers in the loss as well. Simply put, he had a pretty bad night.
Much of that can be attributed to his long layoff during the preseason that saw him play in little more than a few minutes of the Heat’s first exhibition game. Chris Bosh didn’t have that excuse, as he was one of the most productive members of the Miami squad in the games he played prior to the season-opener.
Still, his night was as bad as Wade’s as he failed to score in double-figures, notching only eight points on 3-of-11 shooting from the floor, and 2-of-2 from the charity stripe in 37:37 minutes of play. He did grab eight rebounds, and block a shot, but that was hardly the statline most Miami fans were hoping to see from Bosh.
The one member of the superstar trio for the Heat who did shine was LeBron James, who was the game’s leading scorer with 31 points on 10-of-21 shooting, including 3-of-6 from downtown and 8-of-12 from the foul line to go along with four rebounds and three assists. He did have his problems controlling the ball, though, as he notched a game-high eight turnovers.
Carlos Arroyo and Joel Anthony, the other two starters, accounted for just five points between them in limited minutes on the floor. Arroyo was played for only 12:33 minutes, while Anthony saw only 16:41 minutes of playing time. Neither seemed effective against Boston’s starters or even some of their reserves, and Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra opted to use his reserves far more than many anticipated.
Udonis Haslem led the players coming off the bench, logging over 30 minutes and nearly recording a double-double (seems he’s always getting one or on the verge of one) as he scored eight points on 3-of-7 shooting to go along with his 11 rebounds.
Eddie House and James Jones each drained a pair of timely three-pointers as they scored eight and six points respectively in just over 26 minutes each of playing time. Zydrunas Ilgauskas rounded out the players Spoelstra played on the night, scoring just one point (1-of-2 from the free throw line), to go along with three rebounds.
The Celtics were led by Ray Allen’s 20 points on 7-of-13 from the floor, including 5-of-8 from beyond the arc. It seemed whenever Boston needed a clutch shot, Allen or Pierce was there to deliver, especially Allen’s clutch three-pointer with 49.8 seconds left to go to stretch the Celtics lead back to six at 86-80 after LeBron James had brought the Heat to within three with a layup.
The man who delivered the ball to Allen and Pierce in order for them to make those shots seemed always to be Rajon Rondo, who played like a whirling dervish, scoring only four points on 2-of-9 shooting, but grabbing five rebounds and dishing out an incredible 17 assists on the night.
One of those assists was an important three-pointer by Paul Pierce, who drained one from downtown what seemed like just seconds after James Jones had pulled the Heat to within six points at 75-69 with 5:43 remaining in the game. That shot gave the Celtics a nine-point lead the Heat would never be able to recover from, despite LeBron James’ heroic efforts.
When the night was over, Pierce had scored 19 points on 4-of-7 from the floor, 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, and a perfect 8-of-8 from the charity stripe, along with grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out three assists.
The final member of the Celtics “Big Three” recorded the games only double-double on the night, as Kevin Garnett played a fierce game in scoring 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting while grabbing 10 rebounds. His most impressive stat might be how well he shut down Chris Bosh and other Miami players, though.
Shaquille O’Neal rounded out the starters, scoring nine points on 3-of-7 from the floor, and hauling in seven rebounds in just 18 minutes. It’s pretty apparent the Celtics haven’t been able to get Shaq to shoot any better from the foul line, though, as he was a poor 3-of-8 from the charity stripe.
Glen “Big Baby” Davis gave a yoeman’s performance for the boys in Green, scoring 13 points on the night going 6-of-7 from the floor and 1-of-2 from the foul line, while grabbing five rebounds and blocking a shot.
Beyond all the stats, this just seemed like a game the Heat weren’t completely ready to play. Neither Chris Bosh nor Dwyane Wade looked as if they were in sync the whole night, and it cost the Heat a win.
That’s not taking away from the Celtics, either. They played a very good game, and there’s a chance they may have raised the level of their game to equal Miami’s even if Wade and Bosh had been on their games.
Those are speculations best left for those who like to dabble in them. Better to simply take the loss and move on, and hope Wade and the Heat are ready to play tomorrow night against the 76ers in Philadelphia.
I will save the brash talk for tomorrow, and say I just hope they are.