MIAMI -- The Celtics got out-worked, then worked up in a 93-79 loss to the Heat Monday night, Miami winning the first game in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Finals.
Rebounds continued to be a problem for the Celtics, who lost that battle, 48-33, in Game 1. The Heat forced the Celtics to work for every possession, limiting Boston to 40 percent shooting. There was a glimpse of hope -- the Celtics wrapped two dismal offensive quarters around a brilliant second quarter -- but the burst was short-lived. In a microcosm of their inconsistent season, the Celtics scored 11 points in the first quarter, 35 in the second, and 15 points in the third. By that time, the Celtics were down 11 points and were desperately trying to claw back.
LeBron James outscored the Celtics all by himself in the first quarter, 13-11. The 11 points the Celtics scored in the first quarter was a team low this postseason, and it wasn't even close. Their previous low was 17 vs. Atlanta on May 4. Rondo was 0 for 3 with 2 assists and 4 turnovers in the first.
After such a dismal first quarter, it may have seemed unrealistic for the Celtics to turn it around in the second. But that's exactly what they did, making 13 of 22 shots and scoring 35 points to tie the score at halftime. That was despite picking up three technical fouls in the quarter and despite Ray Allen missing four free throws in the first half. Allen was out of the locker room before everyone else at the break getting up some free throws.
About the technicals: the Celtics had five of them. Ray Allen, Rondo, and Doc Rivers each had one, while Kevin Garnett earned two for delay of game. The delays made the play disjointed, but as the game went on, it was hard to blame them for the final outcome.
Garnett led the Celtics with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Pierce, who somehow did not get a technical after being ejected by basically the same officiating crew in Game 1 of the last year's Celtics-Heat series, was 5 of 18 from the field. It also didn't help that the Celtics were 11 of 21 at the line. One bright spot, if you want to take it that way: only eight turnovers.
James had 32 points and Wade 22 for the winners. Game 2 is Wednesday night in Miami.
Final: Heat 93, Celtics 79
3:08 4th quarter, Heat 87-73: LeBron and KG just had a thing. Some staring, laughing, and a little mean-mugging.
8:23 4th quarter, Heat 80-67: Want a not-encouraging stat? Celtics only have 6 turnovers, and they're down 13.
10:13 4th quarter, Heat 76-61: Well this is going downhill fast. The Celtics are in danger of getting blown out here.
End 3d quarter, Heat 72-61: Bad quarter for the Celtics. The Heat are back in control. The points for Miami were 26-15 in the third, the Celtics shooting 23 percent from the field. Rondo had more technicals (one) than assists (zero) in the third.
2:55 3d quarter, Heat 66-58: Pietrus tries to body LeBron. James misses the fallaway but gets the call. Pietrus did the same thing in the first half and also got called for it.
5:06 3d quarter, Heat 62-56: Another technical foul, this one on Rondo.
6:53 3d quarter, Heat 57-52: LeBron gets wide open under the hoop with no one else across halfcourt. If we were playing 4 on 4, he'd have to take it out at the top of the key. Celtics are just 2 of 12 to start the third quarter.
Wade drives and gets two. Miami opening it up again.
10:07 3d quarter, Heat 50-48: Miami continues to front Garnett, who continues to get the ball down low. He has 15 points.
Halftime, Tied at 46: Great job by the Celtics to hang in this thing despite the awful first quarter. The score is now tied at 46 after officials review that Joel Anthony's putback at the 2:20 mark in the second quarter was after shot clock
Speaking of that second quarter, the Celtics made 13 of 22 shots in it. That's a lot better than their 5 of 20 in the first. Pierce has 10 points. Garnett's played just 14 minutes in the game. Things are looking .... up?
3:13 2d quarter, Heat 43-38: Now Doc Rivers gets called for a technical foul. The Celtics and this officiating crew have issues.
It's never a good idea to foul Allen on a 3-pointer, but he missed 2 of 3 free throws. He's missed four free throws for the game.
7:13 2d quarter, Heat 35-26: Kevin Garnett gets called for a technical after his second delay of game call. He's flabbergasted, as is Doc Rivers.
8:16 2d quarter, Heat 30-24: Nice little run by the Celtics to keep this from getting out of hand. Keyon Dooling hits a 3-pointer to cut it to six. The Celtics are using a lineup of Dooling, Rondo, Allen, Pietrus, and Garnett. It's working.
10:03 2d quarter, Heat 28-17: Mike Miller hits his second 3-pointer of the game to give the Heat their largest lead. The play comes after Ray Allen was called for a technical for arguing a call.
51.3 1st quarter, Heat 19-11: James has 11, the Celtics have 11.
2:58 1st quarter, Heat 17-9: The Celtics are in danger territory right now with Garnett on the bench. Stiemsma's been fine so far on offense. Things are opening up for Miami on the other end though with Garnett off the floor.
5:38 1st quarter, Heat 10-5: Weird game so far. Ray Allen has two offensive rebounds but is 0 for 2 from the floor and has missed a free throw. Rajon Rondo has one assist and two turnovers. The Heat, meanwhile, are 4 of 10 with three turnovers. The Celtics force ugly on you. They've got to clean it up on the other end though.
8:15 1st quarter, Heat 5-3: The Celtics are 1 for 8, but so far it hasn't killed them.
10:15 1st quarter, Heat 4-0: LeBron James drove baseline and dunked on Miami's first possession. Dwyane Wade has an alley-oop from James.
MIAMI -- Pregame: Everyone is good to go for the Celtics. Chris Bosh still out for the Heat. Celtics are playing on one day's rest, but Doc Rivers said he told his players to approach it "like a regular season game, but it's the playoffs." This is the feeling-out game. Let's get it.