Heat can't recover from lackluster 1st half, score just 80 in loss to Celtics

LeBron sums up the Heat's first game of the season with just one finger ...

The beginning of the game was what you'd expect in the first game of the season.  Both teams turned the ball over on offensive fouls in the first two minutes and it seemed to take both teams a few minutes to get going offensively.  After starting 0-4 from the field, Boston went on a 7-0 scoring run that ignited the packed TD Garden. 

Meanwhile, there was a noticeable layer of rust on Dwyane Wade.  He had his usual moves and explosiveness but needed to tighten things up a little.  In ten 1st quarter minutes Wade went 0-4 from the field and turned the ball over 3 times.  As a team, Miami shot just 23.5% and scored 9 points but were only down by 7 after the first 12 minutes. 

While Boston was expanding their lead to 31-15, Miami was in the midst of a 2-for-18 shooting slump.  Outside of an injury occurring, this was pretty much the worse way for the Heat (or any team, really) to start their season.  Their halfcourt offense was sagging, their transition D was sloppy and their halfcourt D was sluggish and poor positioned.

Miami finished the 1st half shooting a pitiable 26.8% from the field (11-of-41) and trailed the Celtics by 15.  Other then Joel Anthony (7), Udonis Haslem (6) and Chris Bosh (5), nobody was rebounding for the Heat.  The three of them recorded 18 of Miami's 22 1st half rebounds. 

The 3rd quarter was more of the same early on as the Heat struggled to get anything going on offense.  They finally began to chip away at Boston's lead, going on a 7-0 run to get the deficit down to 10.  Of course, they let Ray Allen hit a wide-open trey immediately after that... which at that point was basically the game in a nutshell. 

Boston was also dealt a tough hand when Paul Pierce had to retreat to the locker room with a lower back injury that appeared to happen when he tried to draw a charge on LeBron James and ended up on his back with James heading to the foul line.  It was right around then that I began to get that déjà-vu feeling.

Suddenly I was remembering Celtics games from the past and how often I'd seen Pierce looking like he was in excruciating pain, limping to the bench or holding a bum shoulder or forearm but then like magic Pierce would be right back in the game running around and making shots like nothing had ever happened.  Obviously the guy has Wolverine-like healing powers because there is no other logical explanation. 

It was LeBron James taking over the 3rd quarter and almost single-handedly bring the Heat back.  He either scored or assisted on the 14-straight buckets for Miami and scored 15 points in the quarter.  After trailing by 19 at one point, the Boston lead was down to just 6 heading into the 4th

After scoring just 2 points through three quarters, Udonis Haslem scored the first 4 points of the final quarter for Miami.  The Heat trimmed Boston's lead down to 4, but D-Wade was called for an iffy offensive foul and then the ‘injured' Paul Pierce returned to nail a pair of triples to get the lead back up to 9 with just over five minutes left. 

Just when you thought that the game was over, the Heat went on a 10-0 run with under 4 minutes left, turning a 13-point Boston lead into just a 3-point lead with 1:10 left in the game.   Unfortunately the Heat halfcourt D couldn't get a stop when it mattered, letting the ball move around to a wide-open Ray Allen...and does he ever miss big shots?  Just like that the Boston lead was back up to 6 with 50 seconds left. 

After the timeout, D-Wade put up a quick 3-pointer that missed, then he fouled Paul Pierce after allowing the shot clock to get down to 6.  Really, the Heat never should have been in this game at the end anyway, but it was a nice little reminder that they still have some work to do to get where they want to be. 

While Dwyane Wade has a good excuse as to why his game wasn't anywhere near as good as it will be once he's is back to 100%, I'd like to know what happened to Chris Bosh in this one.  He finished with just 8 points (on 3-of-11 shooting) and 8 boards but was noticeably unnoticeable throughout the entire game.  He was probably my biggest disappointing surprise out of all the negatives from the Heat, but for now lets just chalk it up to one bad game. 

Another guy who was pretty non-existent was Carlos Arroyo.  He played just 13 minutes and hit 1-of-3 from the field, with no rebounds, no assists, no steals...no nothing.  The same thing happened to Joel Anthony after his first 11 minutes of the game.   He played just 6 minutes in the game's final three quarters, showing us that Erik Spoelstra feels that Joel will be best suited to play when the Heat aren't coming from behind.  

GAME NOTES

  • James Jones and Eddie House had similar starts.  Both missed their first three-point attempt and then missed their second on the same offensive possession. 
  • All 7 of James Jones' shots came from beyond the arc.  He made two of them, but off the top of my head I can remember at least three that he missed when completely wide open. 
  • Miami's first triple of the season came with 2 minutes left in the first half.  Thanks, Eddie House. 
  • Joel Anthony played almost the whole 1st quarter, making his only shot and grabbing 7 rebounds. 
  • After making just 2-of-10 shots in the 1st half, Dwyane Wade didn't have a single shot attempt in the 3rd quarter.  It wasn't until 4½ minutes into the 4th when he finally put up another shot.  
  • The new, potent, offensive Heat lineup made some history in Boston.  Their 9-point 1st quarter was the lowest scoring quarter in Heat history.  The 30 points scored in 1st half was also a team record.  The previous lows were 12 and 32.

It's unfortunate that the Heat had to start their season with a loss, but considering how much they struggled it's a pretty good sign that they were right there with a chance to win it at the end.  There are going to be some growing pains as the team   continues to gel, but even with that as an issue they shouldn't have as much trouble as they did against Boston. 

The Celtics are one of the best defensive teams in the league and will provide a great opponent whenever these two teams meet.  I imagine the story will be a little bit different when the Heat travels into Philadelphia for their showdown against the 76ers tomorrow night. 

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