Fast Breaks: Heat vs. Celts, Game 1
Kevin Garnett sounded as if he expected to be suspended for Game 2
With tempers flaring already, this series looks as if it will be a testy one
Miami held a lead in the third quarter before experiencing a total collapse
BOSTON -- The Celtics held their home court Saturday with an 85-76 win in Game 1 over Miami, but the larger outcome remained in doubt pending a review by NBA executive VP Stu Jackson of a last-minute altercation.
Will Kevin Garnett be suspended for Game 2? The Celtics were leading 81-75 with 40 seconds left as Garnett stood protectively over Celtics captain Paul Pierce, who was laying out of bounds at the Heat bench after suffering an apparent stinger to his right shoulder while trying to dribble around Udonis Haslem and Quentin Richardson. Garnett elbowed Richardson as Haslem and Celtic forward Glen Davis arrived to escalate the group argument into something of a baseball tiff, in which both sides shouted and shoved without throwing punches. Boston coach Doc Rivers arrived to force Garnett and Davis back to their end of the court, while GM Danny Ainge helped keep other Celtics from leaving their bench. "We had the lead -- that's not the right time to be flexing our muscles,'' said Rivers. "I know they were concerned about Paul ... but that's a lesson for us.''
After a lengthy video review by the officials, Garnett was ejected with two technicals, and later he sounded as if he expected to be suspended for Game 2 after elbowing Richardson in the jaw. "I'm smarter than that,'' said Garnett. "I have to keep my composure in a situation like that.''
This is going to be a fiery series. "[Paul Pierce] was on the ground crying, I don't know what was going on,'' said Richardson. "I said to Jermaine [O'Neal], 'He's OK,' because I knew nobody touched him. Is he taking another break like he does so many times? Sometimes he falls like he's about to be out for the season, and then he gets right up.'' He referred to Pierce and Garnett as "two actresses'' and added, "I don't like them, and they know it.''
Pierce's comeback. Miami was leading 59-45, thanks to a 15-2 run to start the third period. Then Pierce scored 11 points over the quarter's final 7:26 to lever the game Boston's way. Defensively he would induce airball jumpers from Richardson and Dorell Wright, while on offense he was jamming the ball inside for free throws and drilled a three -- Boston's first in six attempts -- on a terrific left-handed drive and kickout from Rajon Rondo. Now the question is whether Pierce will be healthy for Game 2 Tuesday after suffering several similar incidents with his shoulder over the last month. "I was feeling the pain going down my shoulder, numbness, tingling -- a sensation that you would get when you hit your funny bone,'' said Pierce, who led Boston with 16 points despite going 4-for-12 from the field. "Hopefully some ice and rest over the next couple of days, it will feel better.''
Miami's collapse. The Heat were up 61-47 and shooting 25 for 47 (53.2 percent) when they lost all control, going 6-of-31 over the final 19 minutes. The Celtics scored 38 points off 22 Miami turnovers overall. "For us to take control of the series, it is going to have to happen with our mental stability and strength,'' said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "We are much better than this, particularly in the mind, and we did not show a lot of stability there in the fourth quarter ... but we still had a chance.''
In spite of those mistakes they were within five points and had the ball with 40 seconds left, but neither Dwyane Wade (a game-best 26 points on 18 shots) nor Wright could convert. "We did a good job defensively, so I was very pleased with that,'' said Wade after Boston was held to 44.3 percent. "We've just got to tell everybody to relax, calm down. This team is going to try to bully you, to speed you, to get you to play the way they want you to play.''
Boston moves inside. The Celtics changed their long-bombing trend and -- for this game at least -- veered inside the arc, going almost 17 minutes before attempting their first three-pointer. Most noticeable was a decision made by Rasheed Wallace at the end of the first quarter to ignore an open three and instead whip a pass to Tony Allen on the baseline, who wrenched up a lay-in at the buzzer. "We talked about it a lot,'' said Rivers. "Kevin looks as fresh as he's looked all year to me, and so we have to take advantage of that.''
But will they lose Garnett for Game 2? And will Rondo -- stricken with a violent stomach flu over the last two days -- be able to keep up the pace after producing 10 assists, 10 points and seven rebounds in 43 minutes? These two questions should help Miami feel more relaxed indeed.
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