MIAMI -- If this is the first round of a seven-round prize fight, the Miami Heat just landed an uppercut straight to the jaw.
Dwyane Wade led the Heat with 38 points and James Jones came off the bench to add five 3-pointers as the Miami Heat defeated the Boston Celtics 99-90 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at American Airlines Arena. The Heat have now won two straight games against the Celtics on this floor.
The prize fight analogy works on a couple of levels. This game was chippy. Paul Pierce was ejected at the 7:00 mark in the fourth quarter after picking up his second technical foul. Both of Pierce’s technicals came on double-technical calls, the first with Jones and the second with Wade. The Celtics made several runs to stay in the game without Pierce late, but they dug too big a hole early to make much of a difference.
“This team right here is never going to quit,” Wade said after the game. “Every game is going to be like this.”
Both teams shot poorly in the first quarter -- both teams minus Wade. Wade carried the Heat with 13 points on 5-of-7-shooting in the first, while rest of the Heat were 2 of 12.
Miami ended an ugly first quarter with a pretty play as Wade found Mario Chalmers for a layup that beat the buzzer. The basket came off the Celtics' fourth turnover of the first quarter and was exactly the kind of play Celtics coach Doc Rivers had warned against all week going into Game 1.
The Celtics were outplayed in all phases of the game in the second quarter as Miami jumped out to a 51-36 lead at the break. The Celtics shot 38 percent from the field in the first half. Pierce, Rondo, and Garnett combined to shoot 3 of 12.
While the Celtics were missing on one end, Wade and Jones were wearing out the nets on the other. Jones hit 4 of 5 3-pointers and scored 14 points in the second quarter, while Wade picked up where he left off in the first and finished the half with 23 points. Rondo played just eight minutes in the first half due to foul trouble.
The third quarter was a tease for Celtics fans. Miami got the lead up to 19 points to start the second half, but the Celtics used a 12-0 run to get the lead back to seven. The Heat responded and upped the lead to double-figures, but the Celtics again got the lead back down to seven on a 3-pointer by Ray Allen at the 4:26 mark. Once again, Miami stormed back, got the lead up to 17 points, and led 76-62 at the end of the third.
Allen led the Celtics with 25 points, while Pierce finished with 19 points on 6-of-14 shooting.
Game 2 is Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at American Airlines Arena.
Final: Heat 99, Celtics 90: Celtics can't get over the hump with any of their runs. Miami leads the series, 1-0.
4:18 4th quarter, Heat 90-82: You can't leave Ray Allen open for even a split second. Miami calls timeout as the Celtics are inexplicably not out of the game entirely.
7:00 4th quarter, Heat 87-74: Wow. Pierce just picked up his second technical and gets tossed. Wade gave Pierce a hard shove and Pierce said something back, drawing technicals on both players. Didn't hear what Pierce said, but it looked like Wade was in the wrong on the play. Pierce and Doc Rivers both incredulous at Pierce getting tossed.
7:59 4th quarter, Heat 82-72: Paul Pierce fakes James Jones up into the air, and Jones comes down hard on the Celtics captain. Pierce took exception to the foul and got in the face of Jones, who swung his arm back at Pierce. Both players drew technicals.
9:17 4th quarter, Heat 82-65: Kevin Garnett comes in for Jeff Green. Green is 2 for 7 from the floor.
End 3d quarter, Heat 76-62: Erik Spoelstra is livid with his team for not pressuring the ball on that last Celtics possession. Paul Pierce waited for the ball to bounce to him, took a couple dribbles, and buried a three.
That's about the only thing that went wrong for the Heat. They're up 14 here with one to play.
2:01 3d quarter, Heat 72-58: Just like that it's getting out of hand again. James Jones hit his fifth 3-pointer, then drew a flagrant foul call on Jermaine O'Neal and converted two free-throws. James Jones has 19 points. That's more than Pierce, Garnett, and Rondo combined.
3:38 3d quarter, Heat 64-53: LeBron James finishes in transition, then does pushups after drawing a foul. Not irritating at all.
6:07 3d quarter, Heat 59-48: After Miami got the lead up to 19 points, the Celtics used a 12-0 run to get the lead back to seven. But LeBron James has calmed his troops.
8:43 3d quarter, Heat 55-46: This is our first real glimpse at the Celtics with Rajon Rondo in the game, and what a difference it's making for Boston's offense. Good start to the second half for the Cetics.
Halftime, Heat 51-36: About as bad a start as the Celtics can have in this one. Dwyane Wade ends the half with a difficult fadeway to give him 23 points. That's only 13 fewer points than the Celtics have as a team. The Celtics are shooting 38 percent and have seven turnovers. Rajon Rondo has only played eight minutes. Rondo, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett have combined to shoot 3 of 12 from the floor.
2:42 2d quarter, Heat 38-30: Not sure if the Celtics should feel lucky or not to only be down by eight. On one hand they're shooting 34 percent. On the other hand, Miami's offense on this run is all coming from James Jones, who's made 4 of 5 3-pointers. The Celtics will probably live with that. But they've gotta get going offensively.
5:35 2d quarter, Heat 32-26: Ray Allen hits the first 3-pointer for the Celtics, then finds Garnett for an open dunk on a Miami defensive lapse. Better.
7:37 2d quarter, Heat 29-19: The Celtics need some points. It's getting bad.
9:24 2d quarter, Heat 28-16: James Jones has hit two big 3-pointers to give the Heat a little breathing room. It's the Celtics who seem rattled here, which is a bit surprising.
As Delonte West was dribbling to halfcourt to call timeout, he jumped into Mario Chalmers, who was trying to draw a charge after the play had been whistled dead. Chalmers complained to an official, and West threw the ball at Chalmers while Chalmers was on the ground, earning a technical.
11:10 2d quarter, Heat 20-16: Big call here as Rondo gets called for his third foul going after the rebound. He's headed back to the bench.
End 1st quarter, Heat 20-14: Big momentum boost for Miami at the end of the quarter as Dwyane Wade finds Mario Chalmers off the Celtics turnover for the easy bucket at the buzzer. This is the largest lead for either team.
Wade is carrying the Heat with 13 points on 5-of-7-shooting. The rest of the Heat are 2 of 12.
3:05 1st quarter, Heat 13-10: This game is a defensive coach's dream. The Heat are 5 of 15, the Celtics 4 of 14. Both teams have turned the ball over three times. The Celtics' turnovers have led to run-outs for Miami, exactly what the C's did not want to do.
4:20 1st quarter, Heat 9-8: Rondo and O'Neal come out, West and Davis in. West is coming in earlier than usual. He needs to be good.
6:52 1st quarter, Tied at 6: Rajon Rondo just picked up his second personal foul, hugging LeBron in transition to prevent an easy bucket. Good foul in other circumstances, but the C's need Rondo on the floor.
8:51 1st quarter, Tied at 4: Celtics making a concerted effort to go to Garnett, while the Heat are doing the same with Wade. Smart on both counts.
10:52 1st quarter, Tied at 0: Chris Bosh picks up his first foul trying to push out Kevin Garnett. Should be a good battle down there this afternoon.
Pregame: Hoping this OKC-Memphis game wraps up before Celtics-Heat tips. T-shirts on every seat for Heat fans this afternoon.
Let's get it.