Battier comes up big for Heat in Game 1

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Battier comes up big for Heat in Game 1

MIAMI The Boston Celtics have seen their share of X-factors come to life in the playoffs thus far.

In their first-round series against Atlanta, it was Jeff Teague. Against the Philadelphia 76ers, it was rookie big man Lavoy Allen.

Against the Heat?

It's still early, but the X-factor on Monday night was Shane Battier who had a rare double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds in helping Miami defeat Boston, 93-79, in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.

"Shane is everything, man," said Miami's Dwyane Wade. "He does it all for our team."

It certainly looked that way in Game 1.

While LeBron James (32 points, 13 rebounds) and Wade (22 points, seven assists) were racking up all the stats, it was Battier doing the dirty work that in a playoff series like this, could literally mean the difference between winning and losing.

And it was Battier who in hindsight, came up with arguably the biggest play of the night.

Boston spent the entire game playing from behind, but in the third quarter they finally had a chance to take the lead.

With the score tied at 50, Ray Allen got a steal and began to dribble up-court and seemingly had a potential fast-break in the works.

Rajon Rondo was filling the middle of the lane, and was calling for the ball.

Allen didn't initially see him. By the time Allen did, Battier was on the move and was able to block Rondo's lay-up attempt from behind.

Moments later, Battier drilled a 3-pointer that put the Heat ahead for good.

In addition to his scoring and rebounding - it was his first playoff double-double ever - he also managed to keep a bigger, stronger Brandon Bass from having his way on the perimeter or around the basket.

Bass had eight points on 4-for-11 shooting.

The play of Battier certainly caught the attention of Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. If only the same could be said for the Celtics defense, which seemed a bit too giving to Battier all game.

When asked how to compensate for Battier when he's having a game like he did on Monday night, Rivers responded, "We guard him. That would be nice. Take away some of the easy shots."

Battier was 4-for-11 shooting just like Bass, with most of his shots coming "too easy."

Said Rivers: "Shane had three or four easy shots that hurt us."

Despite James and Wade (22 points, seven assists) being the central figures in the Miami Heat offensive attack, Wade understands Miami will need players like Battier and Mike Miller (eight points off the bench) to continue contributing if they are to move on to the NBA Finals for the second year in a row.

"He (Battier) does all the little things," Wade said. "He's pesky. He gets under other guy's skin a little bit. He does a great job of blocking out. Like I said, we love him. And we want him to continue to be comfortable, the way he was tonight and continue to shoot. He's going to have a game where he's going to score more because he's going to be able he's going to get those shots, he's going to knock more down."

Ainge: Winning more important than All-Star bids

Ainge: Winning more important than All-Star bids

BOSTON -- When it comes to NBA awards and accolades, players in contention often try to play it cool when asked about whether they are deserving.
 
And then there’s Boston’s Isaiah Thomas, who gives a definitive response whenever the question about whether he should be an All-Star starter is raised.
 
We’ll find out later today if Thomas will in fact be named as a starter for the Eastern Conference All-Star team when the East and West starters are announced. 
 
“It’s a little bit refreshing in that he is open about it,” Danny Ainge said on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show this morning. “But every player wants to be acknowledged by their fan base, by other players in the league, coaches. You come into the league and as a young player you want to earn the respect of your peers and then you want to get paid and then you want to be an All-Star; maybe that’s the wrong order; and then nothing more important than winning.
 
Ainge added, “Isaiah is having a great year. He’s talked a lot about it. At some point in his career, he’ll talk about the most important thing and that’s winning championships.”
 
Ainge pointed to when Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were all Celtics, there was no mistaking that winning came before anything else.
 
But where those guys were in their careers in terms of individual achievements and just age, were major factors in their focus being so deeply rooted in winning.
 
“Along the way they all want to win, but when you get to the point where Paul, Ray and KG were in their 30s, they didn’t care about any of that other stuff because they had it all, already,” Ainge said. “They had multiple All-Star games, they had big contracts, winning became the only thing that mattered.”
 
In other Celtics-related news, Ainge said that there’s no timetable for when Avery Bradley (right Achilles strain) will return to the floor. He has missed five of the last six games with the injury which includes last night’s loss to the New York Knicks which was a game in which the 6-foot-2 Bradley was a last-minute scratch from the lineup