Celtics drop Game 1 to Heat, 93-79

774866.jpg

Celtics drop Game 1 to Heat, 93-79

MIAMI This is what the two-headed, fire breathing Miami Heat monster tandem of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James can do to you.

If you keep one from burning you, chances are pretty good you'll be torched by the other.

And once you get that one under control, the one that wasn't burning you before?

Now he has it going.

That was indeed the case for the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals as the Heat - with James leading the way, and Wade putting the game away - surged ahead in the fourth quarter for a 93-79 win.

Miami now leads the best-of-seven series 1-0, with Game 2 in Miami on Wednesday. Boston was led by Kevin Garnett, who had 23 points and 10 points.

Wade had a decent game when you look at his final numbers for the night: 22 points and seven assists.

But it was James' ability to light up the Celtics early on that put the C's in a predicament that they never could quite come from under fully.

The first quarter was all about Hurricane James, who stormed through the Celtics defense with reckless abandon, causing the kind of destruction few players inflict upon a Boston defense that has been among the NBA's best throughout the regular season and in the playoffs.

His 13 first-quarter points were actually more than the entire Celtics squad, which trailed 21-11 after the first quarter. He finished with a game-high 32 points and 13 rebounds.

Regardless of whether it was the right call or not, the role of the referees was far greater than it should have been.

Boston was whistled for four technicals - one against Ray Allen, another against head coach Doc Rivers, along with a defensive three-second and maybe the rarest of them all, a delay of game technical which comes after being whistled for two delay of game calls.

Those are the kind of close calls that for many teams, only bring about added frustration for the team that they're called on.

For the Celtics, such setbacks seem to only make them focus more on the task at hand.

As expected, Boston's play gradually improved following the calls.

After falling behind by as many as 11 points in the quarter, Boston closed out the half with a 13-3 run and trailed 48-46 until the officials once again made their presence felt.

They reviewed two plays that involved Miami Heat baskets.

The first was a lay-up at the end of the half by Udonis Haslem that they initially ruled came after the game clock expired.

That call was upheld.

They also reviewed a lay-up by Joel Anthony with 2:20 to play in the second quarter. The original call was that his basket counted. But upon further review, it was ruled that it too came after the shot clock expired which left the Celtics in a 46-all tie at the half.

Boston kept it close early in the third, and had a chance to take their first lead with the score tied at 50.

Ray Allen had a steal and started a fast-break, but decided to slow the ball up - not aware that Rondo was open in the paint with no one in between him and the rim.

Allen eventually passed the ball to Rondo, but it was too late, as a hustling Shane Battier got down court and blocked it from behind.

Moments later, Battier drilled a go-ahead 3-pointer which set into motion a 9-2 run for the Heat before Celtics coach Doc Rivers called a time-out with 6:25 to play in the third.

Miami's control for the rest of the game fluctuated, but it was never really threatened by a Celtics team that spent all but a few seconds playing from behind.

It was still a banner year for Celtics, according to Bleacher Report tweet

It was still a banner year for Celtics, according to Bleacher Report tweet


Minutes after the Celtics were eliminated by the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, the folks at Bleacher Report tweeted a video that celebrated the C’s one victory in the series. 

Ouch. 

There are 17 Celtics championship banners that actually exist and hang at TD Garden. You won’t be seeing one for being a “finalist” or celebrating an actual sweep, such as Spurs over Cavs in the NBA Finals.

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

BOSTON -- Prior to this year, the Celtics hadn't been to the Eastern Conference finals since 2012. That trip served as a curtain call of sorts for the last great C's dynasty.
 
But this one, which ended with Cleveland's emphatic 135-102 Game 5 victory Thursday at TD Garden, is very different.

MORE CELTICS

 
Rather than closing another chapter in the Celtics' longstanding legacy of greatness, it could serve as the beginning of a new narrative in the franchise's steady growth.
 
"For us to be in the Eastern Conference finals after the first year of this team really being together, adding additions like Al Horford and Gerald Green . . . I can go down the list of guys that we needed to learn to play with, and for us to talk about where we wanted to be and actually make it, it's a big-time accomplishment," said Avery Bradley.
 
Boston has been among the younger teams in the NBA, with the 31-year-old Green being the oldest player on the roster.
 
But what the Celtics lacked in experience, they made up for with great effort.
 
"The great thing about this is the experience," Bradley said. "We were able to go to the Eastern Conference finals, learned a lot about being in this position, and I feel like it's going to help us for next year."
 
But as we all know, the Celtics will look to strengthen themsevles this offseason, which means there's a very good chance they'll have a different look when they gather again in the fall.
 
How different is anyone's guess.
 
"It's difficult every year whenever you don't have guys back," said coach Brad Stevens. "I think you share a bond (over the course of a season)."
 
Stevens and this group have been together for eight months. Eight months of struggles, successes, frustrating defeats and euphoric victories that brought them to the conference finals, which is where their season came to an end.
 
But as disappointed as the players and coaches are inow, there's definite excitement about this franchise in the very near future.
 
Boston has the No. 1 overall pick in next month's draft, with all indications -- for now -- pointing to Washington's Markelle Fultz as their choice.
 
And their top first-round pick from a year ago, Jaylen Brown, seemed to steadily improve as the season progressed. It was one of the few times in his life where minutes weren't just handed to him, which he admits was a learning experience unlike anything he had ever had, yet he adjusted and played better as the year went along.

"I've had ups, I've had downs, I've had opportunities, I've had mistakes," said Brown. "So I've been learning and growing and improving all year and I'm going to continue growing and improving and prove people wrong, prove doubters wrong."
 
Having the season end the way it did has indeed left a bad taste in the mouths of many Celtics.
 
"I can use it as fuel," Brown said, adding: "I want to get back to the same place I'm at now."
 
Bradley, who was on the 2012 team that lost to the Miami Heat in the conference finals, knows the Celtics are going to do whatever they feel is necessary to give them the best chance at competing for a title.
 
"It's out of our control as players," Bradley said. "We had a great year together. If guys are here, if guys aren't, we all wish the best for each other.

"But I do feel this is a special group. We all gave our heart every single night, played as hard as we could. I respect all my teammates, and I really appreciated playing with all the guys I had a chance to play with this year; a special group."