Celtics hold off new-look Heat, 88-80

Boston Celtics' Shaquille O'Neal (R) dunks over Miami Heat defenders, including Chris Bosh (1), during the first quarter of their NBA game in Boston, Massachusetts, October 26, 2010. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

It was an ugly first half that included a nine-point first quarter from Miami’s new Super Friends, but LeBron James (31-4-3, 8 turnovers) got it going in the second half and led the way as the Heat cut Boston’s 19-point lead down to three. But Rajon Rondo (17 assists) Paul Pierce (19-9-3), Ray Allen (20 points, 5-8 3PT) and Glen Davis (13-5) were too much in the end, and the Celtics prevailed, 88-80.

I actually think the Heat will come away feeling pretty good about the game, given the performance of Dwyane Wade (4-of-16, 13 points) and Chris Bosh (3-of-11, 8 points). Wade didn’t play much at all in the preseason and was obviously shaking off the rust as the game wore on. And let’s not forget that the Heat were without their fourth (or fifth) best player, Mike Miller, who injured his hand and will be out for a while. They also need to figure out how to chase Allen on those off-ball screens. Both Wade and House tried to go over the top when they should just chase, chase and chase some more.

For the Celtics, Shaq (9-7) started the game, but Davis finished it. The best line I saw on Twitter came from @ShotDrJr: “When Big Baby comes in for Shaq, it’s as if the Celtics have opened a nesting doll.” Classic.

Heat fans obviously shouldn’t panic. It was an important game, but the chips were stacked against Miami. Wade was rusty and the Heat haven’t had a chance to work out the offensive kinks, and going up against the league’s best defensive team is not the way to do it. The fact that they scored just nine points in the first quarter and still only lost by eight is actually encouraging.

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