Defense powers Heat to Game 1 win

The Miami Heat held the Boston Celtics under 20 points in three quarters to cruise to a 93-79 win in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

With the win, the Heat improve to 6-0 in playoff-series opening games at home under Erik Spoelstra. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only one head coach in NBA history has more such wins without a loss. Doug Moe’s teams were 8-0 in this situation, while Mike Dunleavy also has six wins without a loss.

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have stepped up their game since the Indiana Pacers took a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. During the first three games of that series, the duo shot 39 percent from the field and averaged 47 points per game. In the Heat’s four-game winning streak since then, they’ve shot 59 percent from the floor and are averaging 63 points.

When the two were on the floor together in Game 1 against the Celtics, the Heat outscored Boston by 17 points. When either player was off the court, Miami was outscored by three.

Nine different Heat players scored in the game. In addition to his 22 points, Wade contributed assists to six of the other players.

For LeBron, it was less about distributing the ball and more about scoring and cleaning up the glass. He topped 30 points and 10 rebounds in a playoff game for the fifth time since joining the Heat. That ties Wade for the most in franchise history. Shaquille O’Neal and Alonzo Mourning are the only other Miami players to reach that threshold, with one playoff game each.

James has scored at least 20 points in each of the 15 playoff-series openers that he has played at home. Elias points out that this is the second longest active streak, trailing a 19-game streak by Kobe Bryant.

This was the fourth time this postseason that the Heat made at least half their shots. They’ve won all four of those games by double figures.

Celtics In Game 1

Boston made the game interesting with a strong second quarter. The Celtics scored 35 points in the quarter, which was the first time this postseason that the Heat allowed 30 or more points in a quarter. Those 35 points were just nine fewer than the Celtics scored in the other three quarters combined.

The Celtics had trouble in two areas that usually provide easy opportunities to score. They made only 11 of 21 free throws – in 585 playoff games in franchise history, the only time they shot worse than that 52 percent in a game was against the Cincinnati Royals in 1964, when they made 13 of 26 free throws (50 percent).

Offense Inside 5 Feet - Game 1

Boston also struggled close to the basket especially when they fell into a hole in the first quarter. They were outscored 14-2 inside the restricted area during the first 12 minutes. For the game, the Celtics had a season-high eight shots blocked inside the restricted area.

On the other hand, the Heat shot a season-high 85 percent inside the restricted area, making 17 of 20 shots. James and Wade combined for 26 points at the bucket.