Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat knew what they were going to get from LeBron James and Dwyane Wade against the Boston Celtics, but it was the supporting cast that came through Tuesday night with some big shots when the team needed them.
Shane Battier still didn’t shoot the ball well, going 4-11 from the field, but he contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds and continued to play some of the stingiest defense in the NBA playoffs in Game 1. But Battier wasn’t alone.
The oft-maligned Mario Chalmers scored 9 points and pulled down 5 rebounds and dished out 5 assists in the game. Joel Anthony played big minutes and his athleticism was huge in shutting down the Celtics’ big men. Anthony also had 3 points and 6 rebounds in 20 minutes of action.
Mike Miller played sparingly in Game 1, but he went 3-5 from the field, including 2-2 from behind the three-point line and finished with 8 points and 3 rebounds.
Obviously the Heat will go as far as LeBron and Wade can carry them, but when the rest of the players who played big minutes score 30 points, it makes the load for the Big Two that much easier to carry.
It was also the Heat’s defense that came ready to smother the Celtics. The Heat said before Game 1 that part of their strategy was to cut off the head of the figurative snake of the Celtics, point guard Rajon Rondo.
In Game 1, the Heat did just that forcing Rondo into a game of trying to read the defense rather than attacking the rim. Rondo appeared hesitant at times, outside of a burst in the second quarter.
The Celtics catalyst finished with 16 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists. While close to a triple-double, Rondo needed help from his fellow stars. The only problem was no one outside of Kevin Garnett could hit a shot for Boston.
Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Brandon Bass combined to shoot 10-36 from the field, or just 28 percent. While it’s unrealistic to expect that every night from the Celtics, it was obvious from the start of the game that Miami enjoys a huge athletic advantage over the Celtics.
The Heat used that athleticism to frustrate Boston’s offense and get quick and easy points against the Celtics’ defense.
Boston will come back in Game 2 ready to play much harder and more physical with the Heat. For Miami, they have to continue hitting open shots when LeBron and D-Wade look to the outside for teammates.
The Heat know the series is far from over, but if Miami can go up 2-0 Wednesday night; the Celtics will be in very deep trouble in the Eastern Conference Finals.