MIAMI – A big early Miami lead was wasted. After Miami took control again, the Heat simply ran away from the Boston Celtics.
And the NBA finals are now three wins away for LeBron James and the Heat.
James scored 32 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, Dwyane Wade scored 10 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter and the Heat beat the Celtics 93-79 on Monday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Shane Battier, playing in the conference finals for the first time, scored 10 points and had 10 rebounds for the Heat, which wasted an early 11-point first-half lead before running away to break a halftime tie. Miami outrebounded the Celtics 48-33, and blocked 11 Boston shots.
Kevin Garnett scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Boston, which got 16 points, nine rebounds and seven assists from Rajon Rondo and 12 points from Paul Pierce.
Game 2 is Wednesday night in Miami.
James had 13 points in the first quarter – two more than the entire Celtics roster – and Miami ran out to a 21-11 lead after the opening period. Garnett made three of his four shots in the quarter, while everyone else in Boston green was 2 for 16 from the floor.
Boston scored 35 in the second quarter, erasing what was an 11-point deficit early in the period by scoring 27 points in the final 8:46 of the half to pull into a 46-all tie. Rondo, Garnett and Pierce combined to score 23 points in the quarter, looking absolutely vintage, near-perfect offensive execution getting to Miami time and time again. And the Celtics’ comeback happened even while they got hit with three technical fouls in the second quarter, plus Allen missing four first-half free throws – matching his career-worst for an entire game.
In the end, it went down as merely a one-quarter lapse for Miami.
Another technical foul, this one on Rondo, came in the third quarter, likely born from frustration as the Heat started to roll again.
With the game tied at 50, Rondo missed three shots in a 31-second span early in the third, the last of those getting blocked by Battier – who hit a three-pointer 11 seconds later. It started a 9-2 Miami burst.