At the start of the first game of the 2012 NBA Eastern Conference Finals Monday night at American Airlines Arena; the Miami Heat came out to play while their visitors the Boston Celtics, were as flat as a can of soda-pop that had sat open on the counter for the last week. Their lethargic play would not improve during the opening period and the Atlantic Division Champions found themselves trailing their hosts 21-11 at the conclusion of the quarter.
Although Boston broke out of the doldrums in the second as they knocked down 35 points in the quarter to make it a tied contest at 46-46 as the game reached the half; they would re-emerge from their locker room as play resumed and scored just 33 points in the final 24 minutes. Miami was more than pleased to take advantage of the embarrassing performance by their opponents; as they pummeled their visitors and winning the contest 93-79.
The home team deserves credit for shooting 50% (36-72) from the floor while holding their visitors to a lackluster 39.5% (32-81); however they can not take credit for the Celtics abysmal shooting at the charity stripe as Boston hit just 52.4% (11-21) of their free throws. In that category alone they threw away ten points that may have changed the tone of the game.
The visitors also failed to take advantage of two of their obvious strengths heading into the match-up. Miami out rebounded their opponents by a 48-33 margin and outscored them in the paint 42-34 for the night. With Chris Bosh sitting on the Miami bench in street clothes; the home team should have been crushed by their opponents in the inside game. Shane Battier; who is a great guy, but just an average player nearing the end of his career grabbed 10 boards against the Celtics. Most likely Boston bench boss Doc Rivers gave his team an earful on that in the locker room after the loss.
Boston was also outscored on fast-break points by their hosts 10-5, with the Celtics having one of the five best point guards playing in the Association; going up Mario Chalmers, a player that the Heat have so little confidence in that they bring in a player every year to try to take his starting role away.Although Ray Allen is dealing with tender ankles; Rajon Rondo has three other players in his starting lineup that still run the court well. The Celtics starting guard is a master of starting the fast-break; although one could not tell from this game.
For “Celtics Nation” as all the other fans who just want the Heat to lose as they represent the “Evil Empire“, here is one small piece of consolation to hang onto until game two on Wednesday night. The Celtics embarrassed themselves on Monday and they have far too much pride for them not to come out with fire in their eyes as they take on the Heat in game two.