The hype has been building all year. Two championship-caliber teams, the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat, have finally given us all what we've been waiting on. For the first three games, the Celtics handled their business. The last game they played this season, the Heat stood up to the bullies. And if Game 1 was any indication of how this series is going to be, the Celtics may be in trouble.
The Heat came out and basically did whatever they wanted to do all game long. Dwayne Wade had averaged 13 points per game against the Celtics during the regular season, so obviously he was more focused and determined for this series. He showed up a few hours before the game and went to work, perfecting his jump shot as much as possible before the physical battle that was to ensue. And boy oh boy did that jump shot look great on Sunday. He hit shot after shot as he carried the Heat on his back for the first half and led them in scoring for the game with 38 points. He must continue to show his superstar medal in order for this Heat team to be at their best.
Another big plus for the Heat was the play of SF James Jones off the bench. The Heat usually don't get much out of their bench and they usually depend on PF Chris Bosh, SF LeBron James and Wade to score all their points. For Jones to give them some production off the bench, that took a tremendous weight off the shoulders of the Big Three, who needed his production because one of the Big Three was missing in action in Game 1.
The missing member of the Heat Big Three was Chris Bosh. Bosh was hovering on the perimeter for most of the game. For the Heat to be even better, he must stand toe-to-toe with PF Kevin Garnett, or at least try to stand toe-to-toe with Garnett. He has got to get inside and impose his will because he is the best post threat the Heat have. The Heat can't depend on Wade having superstar games against the Celtics all series because Celtics head coach Doc Rivers will make adjustments on Wade for the next game.
Another issue with the Heat is that they don't close well. They survived some runs from Boston in Miami, but can they survive them on the road in Boston? The Heat can play so well at times and then its like a switch gets turned off and they began to slowly loose their crispness on offense and intensity on defense. If the Heat are to win this series, they must exhibit more killer instinct. That's what the great teams do.
For Boston, there weren't very many positives. One big positive is SG Ray Allen. He continued his torrid post-season shooting spree by shooting against the Heat by making 9-13 field goals, including 5-8 from three-point range. Ray Allen may be an elder statesman in the NBA, but there's no question that he's still got the sweetest stroke in the NBA. The Heat have to run Ray Ray off that line or he will torment them the whole series.
Another good sign for the Celtics was they got some kind of production from SF Jeff Green. I'm not saying that Green played outstanding, but he started to show some signs of the guy they traded for near the trade deadline. Green hit some 3's and he also drove to the basket and was more aggressive than he has ever been for the Celtics. If he can build on his performance next game, he will give the Boston a weapon coming off what has been an unproductive Boston bench so far this post-season.
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were supposed to be the guys who intimidated and owned the Heat. This game, they were the ones getting owned. I can't remember Garnett playing all that well this game. He has to take it to Bosh every game for the Celtics to be at their best. Paul Pierce was invisible for most of the first half of the game and even when he was visible, he was committing turnovers. And then when he began to get a rhythm and the Celtics were getting on track, he gets his second technical and gets tossed from the game for what was called a verbal taunt towards D Wade. I don't agree with the second technical, but Pierce has to show more restraint and not even give the referee anything to think about in that situation.
All in all, Game 1 was a pretty good game, but for these teams to increase their chances to win this series, some adjustments need to be made and some players have to step up and play better. I look forward to the adjustments and the game within the game in this series. And I also look forward to this series becoming more and more physical as it goes on. May the best team win.