BOSTON – LeBron James and the Miami Heat were showered with chants of “overrated!” They sure looked that way in their debut as a team formed to win a championship.
The old Big Three of the Boston Celtics, playing under the franchise’s 17 title banners, beat the new Big Three of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh 88-80 on Tuesday night.
The Heat, though, knew it would take time to jell.
“This is one of 82,” Wade said. “Sorry if everyone thought we were going to go 82 and 0. It just ain’t happening.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers is convinced the Heat will progress into a championship contender.
“They’re going to be great,” he said.
Not yet, though. Wade and Bosh weren’t even all that good on opening night.
Wade was limited to 13 points on 4-of-16 shooting and Bosh added eight points and eight rebounds. The trio combined for 15 of the Heat’s 17 turnovers – eight by James, six by Wade and one by Bosh.
“Right now it’s a feel-out process for myself, for D-Wade, for Chris and for the rest of the guys,” James said.
The Celtics won behind 20 points from Ray Allen, 19 from Paul Pierce and 10 points and 10 rebounds from Kevin Garnett. Shaquille O’Neal, James’ teammate last season, had nine points and seven rebounds for Boston. He was one more reason for all the excitement for the game.
“I just said to Paul as we were coming in here,” Garnett said after taking his seat at the postgame news conference. “I said, ‘Are we in the finals already?’ You know, but it did have a lot of hype on it.”
Boston led 45-30 at halftime, but Miami cut that to 63-57 after the third quarter behind James’ 15 points in that period. A layup by James made it 83-80 with 1:10 left in the game. But Boston, which once led by 19, got the last five points on a 3-pointer by Allen and two free throws by Pierce.
Boston led 16-9 after one quarter, the first time since March 15, 2009, at the Philadelphia 76ers that the Heat scored nine points or fewer in a period.