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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The most hyped season opener in NBA history was great theater

It's only fitting that a league that is basically built on glitz and glamour (style over substance) would have a season opener last night that was more suited to be an NBA Finals game.

In the debut of the Miami Heat's new big three (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh), the Boston Celtics showed that their older Big 3 still has something left in the tank.

The Celts (1-0) got up by as much 19 points but held off a furious Heat (0-1) rally to win 88-80 at a sold out TD Garden.

Thinking that the Heat would be a finished product immediately was beyond dumb and Boston proved that teamwork, defense and depth are more important than star power and Q ratings.

The best player on the court had four points. His name is Rajon Rondo and while he still doesn't shoot 3s or can't consistently hit jumpers, he is one of the top point guards in a league full of them (Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, etc.).

Rondo had 17 assists (or two more than the Heat as a team) while Ray Allen (20 points), Paul Pierce (19 points) and Kevin Garnett (10 points, 10 rebounds) displayed the chemistry they've forged over three plus seasons together.

LeBron had a game-high 31 points but Wade was the only other Heat in double-figures (with 13 points on a pathetic 4-for-16 shooting).

Mike Miller, their sixth man, being out for the first few months is a huge setback for Miami since bums Joel Anthony and Carlos Arroyo started last night. Udonis Haslem and Eddie House (8 points apiece) were the top options off the bench and this is supposed to be a championship team?

Boston's marquee pickup, Shaq, did pretty much what you'd expect in his Green debut: nine points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes. He had a couple sweet dunks off assists from Rondo (an alley-oop and a two-handed slam when he trailed on a fastbreak).

Glen Davis (13 points, 5 rebounds) was huge off the bench for the Celts and even Marquis Daniels had eight points, showing his fine preseason might not have been a mirage. This was all without Delonte West, serving his 10-game suspension, who will surely be one of their top reserves.

The first quarter must have made Dr. James Naismith roll over in his grave as Boston led 16-9. The Celts was up 45-30 at the half but in the NBA, every team makes a run and double-digit leads in the first half mean nothing.

LeBron heated up and Miami made it a game with a strong third quarter (27-18). Boston squeezed out the fourth quarter (27-25) with Pierce knocking down two clutch 3-pointers and three free throws after he was fouled taking another 3. Allen hit 3-pointer that was the real dagger with 30 seconds left, which put the C's up 86-80.

Boston shot 46.4% to Miami's 36.5%. The Celts had only three more rebounds (42-39) but ten more assists (25-15) thanks to Rondo.

I'd love to see the Heat crash and burn but the NBA revolves around its stars and they'll be fine. If they can stay healthy (a huge if with this bunch of old-timers), the Celts should go deep into the playoffs once again.

Seems like the offseason was over in the blink of an eye since the Celts went seven games with the Lakers in an epic NBA Finals but it's nice to have this fun, well-coached team back.

Boston goes to Cleveland tonight for the Cavs' first regular season game post-LeBron.

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