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Supporting cast never showed up

By Cristina Ledra
Globe Correspondent / May 29, 2012
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MIAMI - The Celtics expect Kevin Garnett to lead them in just about everything throughout the playoffs.

As their loss in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals showed Monday night, the Celtics’ consistency begins and ends with Garnett.

Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, and Brandon Bass all had subpar performances, leaving the Celtics with the big question of where they can expect support for Garnett to come from as the series continues.

“We were able to establish Kevin, but the rest of us got to be able to step it up, myself in particular, on the offensive end and the defensive end,’’ Pierce said.

While Garnett finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds, and 1 block - in line with his 2012 playoff average of 19.2 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 1.46 blocks - the rest of the Celtics struggled.

“I thought our offense was rushed,’’ coach Doc Rivers said. “I never thought we ever got into our rhythm as far as getting one side of the floor to the other, second and third options.’’

Rondo finished with 16 points and 7 assists, shooting 40 percent from the field, as the Heat got creative guarding him.

“They put different guys on me, they shrunk the floor,’’ Rondo said. “It’s just a matter of us making shots and getting stops.’’

Rivers added that Rondo wasn’t able to play his normal game, that he was thinking too much.

“He’s got to be better in attack,’’ Rivers said. “I thought the second quarter he was attacking and attacking. I thought he was reading a lot instead of playing on his instincts. You can’t read and play at speed at the same time.’’

Bass had 8 points and two rebounds, going 4 of 11 from the field and missing both of his free throw attempts. Pierce had 12 points (5-of-18 shooting) and didn’t get to the free throw line.

“I was trying to be aggressive,’’ Pierce said. “I don’t think I really settled too much. I got to the basket, thought I got hit a couple of times but, hey, that’s the Eastern Conference finals. You’re on the road, you can’t expect any calls, but I’m going to continue to drive the basketball.’’

Allen shot just 14 percent from the field, going 1 for 7 and appeared to be hampered by his injured right ankle. He also was 3 for 7 from the free throw line.

“I don’t think we’ll ever see that again,’’ Rivers said of Allen’s free throw shooting. “I don’t know for Ray if it’s fatigue. It may be something else. He got a bunch of wide-open shots tonight, and with him it’s just balance. When you have a bad foot, ankle, or anything, your balance is off and you can see it in Ray. The ball is going left a lot. He’s one of the greatest shooters of all time.’’

Dwyane Wade had a slow start for the Heat as LeBron James carried the bulk of the early scoring load. But Miami got big baskets from role players such as Shane Battier and Mike Miller. Those contributions were key for Miami and something the Celtics lacked.

“I thought Shane had three or four easy shots that hurt us,’’ Rivers said. “I thought Mike Miller’s 8 points in the first half really hurt us as well. Those are the baskets we have to take away.

“We let Wade, we let LeBron play in extreme comfort and we gave the other guys everything they wanted as well.’’

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