Shane Battier, playing in the conference finals for the first time, scored 10 points and had 10 rebounds for the Heat, who wasted an early 11-point first-half lead before running away to break a halftime deadlock. 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.
It’s the third straight year the Heat and Celtics have met in the playoffs, the third straight year James has seen his postseason path go through Boston as well -- the first of those matchups coming in 2010, his final run with Cleveland. Each of those came in the first or second rounds, never one round away from the NBA finals. And while both sides would say there’s a long way to go in this series, Game 1 winners have a decided edge in any best-of-seven, the conference final being no exception. In the most recent 10 postseasons, teams with 1-0 leads in conference finals have advanced 15 out of 20 times. One of the five instances of a team rallying from a one-game deficit was last year, when Miami ousted Chicago in five games.
Last season’s Miami-Boston series ended with James scoring the final 10 points of Game 5, and the start of this year’s matchup had him putting on another offensive display.
He 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. The 11 points matched the lowest output by any team in the opening quarter this postseason.