The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat continued their close rivalry on Tuesday in a nationally televised game. This, of course, came on the same night that LeBron James and the Heat received their rings and hung their championship banner.
The Celtics put out their best and most familiar starting lineup of Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass, Kevin Garnett and a lone new starter, Courtney Lee. Unfortunately, Boston remained a step behind the Heat defensively the entire game.
The Celtics could barely slow down the Heat, who scored 120 points—including 31 in each of the first three quarters.
Although Courtney Lee almost went unnoticed during this game, he actually put forth a quality performance for his first start in Celtics green. Offensively, Lee orchestrated the type of game that the Celtics hoped he could produce.
He hit on 5-of-6 shots and made the only three-pointer he attempted. Overall, he provided Boston with 11 points, one rebound and one assist.
Over the 24 minutes that Lee saw the floor, he demonstrated that he is more than capable of running alongside Rondo and that he can be relied on to create space for high-percentage shots.
Lee appeared calm and composed even in the frantic scrambling that occurred as the shot clock wound down, and he demonstrated his great touch by hitting on 83 percent of his shots.
The bad news from this game is that Lee seemed completely outmatched on the defensive end of the floor, aside from a few strong plays early on. Dwyane Wade consistently beat Lee (and all other Celtic defenders) to the basket and found sufficient space to pull up for the midrange jump shot.
The inability to keep up with Wade resulted in five fouls—which is likely the reason his minutes were lower than expected heading into opening night.
Overall, Lee put together a performance that was strong in several aspects, but he did show some deficiencies on the defensive end of the court.
The Boston Celtics play a very aggressive style of defense that requires all of the players to be in sync, which may account for not only Lee's performance, but the overly poor performance of the entire team.
It is just one game, so there is only so much that can be concluded. However, it seems fair to say that—although there needs to be marked improvement on the defensive side of the ball—Lee is going to fit in well with Boston's rotation after the team has a chance to build some more chemistry.