Heat Vs. Celtics, Game 1: Miami Earns Series Lead Behind Dwyane Wade's 38

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Paul Pierce Will Not Be Suspended After Head Butt In Celtics' Game 1 Loss To Heat

Paul Pierce will not be suspended for his apparent head butt on James Jones in the Boston Celtics' Game 1 loss against the Miami Heat on Sunday, reports Paul Flannery of WEEI.com.

Pierce earned a technical foul after he was tangled with Jones after the Heat wing fouled the Celtics' star on a jumper attempt in the fourth quarter. Pierce appeared to head butt Jones, but replay showed only a glancing blow that Jones sold very, very well. Moments later, Pierce earned a second technical and an automatic ejection for taunting Dwyane Wade after a couple of collisions in the halfcourt.

Players usually earn suspensions for head butts, but the NBA apparently didn't believe that Pierce's hit wasn't vicious enough to earn more punishment than the tech. Zaza Pachulia of the Atlanta Hawks was ejected and suspended for one game last week after a scuffle with Jason Richardson of the Orlando Magic, but that incident escalated.

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Heat Vs. Celtics, Game 1: Dwyane Wade Warms Up, And Boston Melts Down

Dwyane Wade went 14-21 from the field and finished with 38 points to lead the Miami Heat, and almost single-handedly beat the Boston Celtics in Game 1. Boston didn't help itself, either, and when the dust settled, a nine-point loss was actually a little bit generous.

That was the story in Game 1. For Miami, it was Wade's breakout performance that sealed the win. Every time Boston thought about making a run, Dwyane Wade stepped in to nail a clutch jumper and send the Celtics crashing back to earth. LeBron James had 22 points, six rebounds, and five assists of his own, and it helped the set the stage for Wade. With Boston focused so much on stopping LeBron, Wade could explode on his own.

Wasn't that always the plan for them? That on any given night, either Wade or LeBron would hit that extra gear, and other teams would just have to pick their poison? The conventional wisdom went something like, "You can't stop either of them, you can only hope to contain one of them."

And on Sunday, in the biggest game of the Heat's season to date, that's exactly how it worked. LeBron played the quiet distributor while Wade played assassin, and the Celtics had no answer.

Of course, that was as much a testament to Boston's dysfunction as it was to Miami's suddenly well-oiled machine. Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett were pretty much invisible for the Celtics, and with Paul Pierce spending most of the game tangling with LeBron James, that left the Celtics to rely solely on Ray Allen for scoring. Boston has no chance in that scenario.

Which brings us to the silver lining for Boston... The Celtics couldn't have played worse in Game 1, and yet, even with Wade hitting on all cylinders and James Jones chipping in 25 points for the Heat, the Celtics still kept it relatively close. So, look at this way: if you assume Rondo and Garnett will bounce back by Game 2, and you also assume James Jones and Wade will cool off for the Heat, then it's not unreasonable to think things could be a lot closer next time.

All of which sets the stage for Game 2. The Heat now know they can beat the Celtics, and have more confidence than ever. Meanwhile, even as Miami dominated and Boston's superstars played a nightmare of a Game 1, and the Celtics still only lost by 9 points. Not exactly humiliating.

So both teams have reason to be confident after Game 1. And going into a crucial Game 2 that could be a turning point in the biggest playoff series in the NBA right now? For the fans, that's a major victory.

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Heat Vs. Celtics, Game 1: Why Must The NBA Be So Sensitive?

Game 1 of the Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics NBA Playoffs series was fine, but with Paul Pierce ejected and the rest of the players on their best behavior, it felt anti-climatic. Why doesn't the NBA want this series to get emotional?

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James Jones Huge In Miami Heat's Game 1 Win Over Boston Celtics

The Miami Heat don't expect to get much scoring beyond the troika of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh; the Heat need roleplayers like James Jones, Mike Bibby and Mike Miller to hit open shots, and need their big men to defend and pull opponents away from the rim. They certainly don't expect someone like Jones to drop 25 on the Boston Celtics in the NBA Playoffs. But that's just what Jones did on Sunday in Miami's 99-90 Game 1 victory.

The Heat made Boston pay for its attention to Miami's star by rotating the ball and hitting Jones before the Celtics' usually excellent defensive rotation was able to catch up. As a result, Jones hit 5-7 from the floor -- all on three-pointers -- to rack up the game's second-highest point total. Jones didn't break 20 during the regular season, and his previous playoff career high was 19.

Jones is one of the league's very best three-point shooters, and a solid defender; while Mike Miller was more heavily touted (and more expensive), Jones has filled the back-up wing role quite well, playing tough defense despite his lanky frame and hitting more than 40 percent of his threes in the regular season. Against Boston, making the defense pay for heavy commitment to the paint is key; the teams that beat the Celtics hit their threes. Miami is chock full of specialists, and finished No. 7 in the NBA in three-point percentage this season; Jones and Eddie House were the only regulars who took a good portion of the Heat's three-point attempts and hit well above league average.

It'll be interesting to see whether Boston adjusts by attaching fewer defenders to Wade and James; it's difficult to imagine that the Celtics will consider Wade, who scored 38 points in 37 minutes, a lesser threat, and James deserves multiple sets of eyes. Boston could pay special attention to Jones over Bosh, Joel Anthony and the point guard on the floor, and also hope he stops hitting almost everything he takes. But a new challenge most didn't expect to be considering on Monday morning.

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Heat Vs. Celtics, Game 1: The Non-Headbutt Heard Round The World

Dwyane Wade hustled to the end, scoring 38 points Sunday to lead Miami to a 99-90 win over Boston in Game 1 of their anticipated second-round playoff series.

The must-see game grew chippy down the stretch, and Celtics forward Paul Pierce was ejected after getting two technical fouls in a 59-second span in the fourth quarter.

As for what Pierce did specifically to warrant the technical and ejection, referee Danny Crawford was clear to say it wasn't a headbutt but the "intent" of how he acted.

"The first technical foul, it was contact during a dead ball. He approached Jones and got right in his face. There wasn't a head-butt, but he got right into his face after a hard foul.

Wade played arguably his worst four games of the 2010-2011 season against the Boston Celtics. In game one of the Eastern Conference semifinals, he more than erased those painful memories. Wade scored 38 points in the Heat's 99-90 victory.

There was a specific play that Wade made that, says Peninsula Is Mightier, summed up the night and the game for the Heat.

The play of the game, in my mind, was Dwyane Wade waiving off Coach Spoelstra's pleas for a time out just before half time, motioning his teammates to clear out and then banking in a tough shot over Ray Allen to give the Heat a 15 lead at the break. Although Boston played well early in the third and had a nice little run late in the fourth, it really felt like Miami had the game in hand from that moment on.

Be sure to follow our Heat vs. Celtics hub for full series coverage. For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. For more on the Celtics, visit CelticsBlog and SB Nation Boston.

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Heat Vs. Celtics Final Score: Dwyane Wade Leads Miami To Win, Series Lead

Dwyane Wade spent all four games of the Heat's regular season series against the Celtics struggling mightily. It took just one playoff game for Wade to change that narrative.

Wade scored 38 points, including 23 in the first half and 13 in the fourth quarter, as the Heat struck first in their Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the Celtics with a 99-90 win in Miami.

Wade buoyed the Heat in a chaotic fourth quarter that included Paul Pierce getting ejected after earning two technical fouls — one for a "headbutt" of James Jones, another for a hard screen and some jawing — multiple runs by the Celtics, and a whopping 28 points from a Boston squad that managed just 36 in the first half.

But he wasn't alone: LeBron James had a quietly excellent game, scoring 22 points and adding six rebounds and five assists, and Jones was lethal from three-point range and as a foul shooter, sinking five triples and making all 10 of his free throws. And that made up for the other member of Miami's Big Three, Chris Bosh, scoring just seven points.

The Celtics, meanwhile, have a number of pressing concerns to attend to. Ray Allen had 25 points, and Pierce had 19 points before being ejected, but no other Celtic broke into double figures. And the other two members of Boston's core quartet, Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett, combined to go six-for-19 from the field and score just 18 points.

If the Celtics could have sustained any of their runs, this could have been a road win in a hostile environment against an unproven team. Instead, with Pierce boiling over and most of the Celtics misfiring, the Heat have a 1-0 series lead.

Game 2 of the series is Tuesday night in Miami.

Be sure to follow our Heat vs. Celtics hub for full series coverage. For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. For more on the Celtics, visit CelticsBlog and SB Nation Boston.

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Heat Vs. Celtics Score: Miami Riding High After Third Quarter

Everything's clicking for the Heat, and after the third quarter of Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals Series, it's the Celtics who are looking for their talents somewhere around South Beach. Miami leads, 76-62, entering the fourth quarter.

The Heat have been excellent on offense against the stingy Celtics. LeBron James has 20 points on 13 shots, and James Jones has a staggering 19 points on just six shots. (He's made five threes.) And the Heat's offensive surge hasn't required Dwyane Wade keeping up his blistering first half pace, either: Wade has 25 points after having 23 at the half.

Even better, the Heat aren't allowing the Celtics to make up any ground at the other end. Ray Allen (19 points) and Paul Pierce (12) are the only Celtics in double digits, and the Celtics are shooting just 39% from the field.

Be sure to follow our Heat vs. Celtics hub for full series coverage. For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. For more on the Celtics, visit CelticsBlog and SB Nation Boston.

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Heat Vs. Celtics Score: Dwyane Wade Stakes Miami To Halftime Lead, 51-36

The first quarter in Miami was a defensive struggle. In the second quarter of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Heat and Celtics, though, the Heat have heated up.

Dwyane Wade had 23 points in the first half, leading a Miami attack that is aerating Boston's vaunted defense with dribble-and-kick. James Jones, the recipient of a lot of those kick-outs, has 14 points, and hasn't taken a shot inside the arc. LeBron James' 10 points seem like an afterthought.

Boston is left wondering how to slow Wade and prevent James or Chris Bosh (who has two points) from revving up their games, and wondering what it can do to kick-start its own offense. Delonte West has been the Celtics' spark so far, with eight points off the bench, and Ray Allen has 13, but Celtics starters not named Allen have combined to make just three of 14 shots and score just eight points.

Be sure to follow our Heat vs. Celtics hub for full series coverage. For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. For more on the Celtics, visit CelticsBlog and SB Nation Boston.

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Heat Vs. Celtics Score: Miami Leading, 20-14, After Defensive First Quarter

Given all the offensive talent on the floor, it would be fair to hope that the Heat vs. Celtics series would be a high-scoring string of barn-burners. After the first quarter of Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals Series, that looks very unlikely: the Heat clamped down, taking a 20-14 lead on the Celtics.

The Heat's offensive production is coming from Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, just like always. Wade leads all scorers with 13 points, and has added two assists, two steals, a rebound, and a block; James has five points. The duo had combined for all of Miami's points until a Mario Chalmers lay-up at the buzzer.

Comparatively, the Celtics have been scuffling. Ray Allen has eight points to lead Boston, and two fouls each for Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett has made finding an offensive rhythm harder.

Be sure to follow our Heat vs. Celtics hub for full series coverage. For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. For more on the Celtics, visit CelticsBlog and SB Nation Boston.

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Danny Crawford, Derrick Collins And Ed Malloy Referees In Game 1 Of Heat Vs. Celtics

Danny Crawford, Derrick Collins and Ed Malloy will serve as the referees for Game 1 of the second round 2011 NBA Playoffs series between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics, which tips off at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami. David Jones will be the alternate referee.

Home teams have done rather well in games worked by Crawford this season, according to Covers.com's referee database. Teams playing at home have gone 41-33-2 against the spread in Crawford's 2010-11 games. The Heat are 4.5-point favorites against the Celtics in Game 1.

The last time the Heat entered the NBA Playoffs with high expectations referees figured heavily in the NBA Finals, with the officiating of Dwyane Wade's relentless drives to the basket -- and the resulting free throws -- drawing huge attention.

Check out our Heat vs. Celtics hub for full series coverage, including predictions and game-by-game previews and recaps.

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Heat Vs. Celtics, Game 1: LeBron James, Miami Face Their Greatest Challenge

Sure, it's the second round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs -- not the NBA Finals, not even the conference finals. It's the second round. It's the first of May! But this is what we've been waiting for since last July: Miami Heat. Boston Celtics. NBA Playoffs.

LeBron James cast his die when he told Jim Gray and everyone that he'd be taking his talents to South Beach. After getting jolted out of the 2010 playoffs by the resurgent Celtics, LeBron conceded in Cleveland and determined that to summit Boston, he'd need better arsenal. He ended up conceding the 2011 NBA MVP and perhaps all future MVP consideration by teaming up with a former rival like Dwyane Wade; he certainly drew the scorn of old proud superstars like Michael Jordan and Larry Bird (old proud superstars who had Hall of Fame teammates, by the way), self-assured sports columnist and Coors Light-swilling "man card inspectors." When he joined the Heat, he might as well have told all these folks that he was too weak, that he didn't want to work so hard any more.

Of course, the fact is that the league is so good -- the Celtics, the Lakers, the Bulls -- that joining forces like this isn't a ticket to a championship in any way. The Heat learned that all season, and the Celtics have been at the forefront of reminding them, with three wins in four head-to-head meetings. We sometimes forget that the Celtics came together like this too, a motley crew of spectacular talents assembled to rejuvenate a glorious franchise, and one which met with immediate success. The talents, though, were different; the comparison ends after you list all the accolades the stars received before joining up.

But when the teams take the floor in Game 1 on Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC), none of that matters. It'll be two teams filled with some of the best players in the league at almost every position, two of the most talked-about teams in one of the most anticipated series in any round in any year, fighting 'til the Basketball Death, with mercy off the table. It should be a blast.

Be sure to follow our Heat vs. Celtics hub for full series coverage. For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. For more on the Celtics, visit CelticsBlog and SB Nation Boston.

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