Boston Celtics-Miami Heat: 10 Lessons We Learned From LeBron James' First Game
The Boston Celtics took it to LeBron James and the Miami Heat early and held on late Tuesday night in the highly-anticipated season opener.
Miami's ugly first half performance did little to justify the historic level of pregame hype.
The Heat totaled just nine points in the first quarter and managed to score a meager 30 points in the half.
With Carlos Arroyo starting at point guard, Erik Spoelstra used LeBron to run the offense for long stretches.
The Heat bogged down in the half court and looked absolutely lost on offense.
Meanwhile, the Celtics took care of business by moving the ball and clamping down defensively.
After the break, LeBron reminded us why he was the most sought-after commodity in the history of professional sports by leading a Heat comeback with a spectacular second half.
Ray Allen and Paul Pierce hit several huge shots to help the Celtics hold on for an 88-80 victory.
Here's 10 things we learned about LeBron and the Heat in arguably the most anticipated season opener in NBA history.
No. 10: Eddie House Is The Biggest Factor Off The Bench
It was certainly interesting to see how the Big Three looked in their first game together, but it was also interesting to monitor how Erik Spoesltra handled the bench.
Eddie House played extensively in place of Dwyane Wade.
He replaced Carlos Arroyo at the midway point of both the first and third quarters, giving Miami a boost with his perimeter shooting.
Besides House, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Udonis Haslem had some nice moments off the bench.
James Jones also saw some action in Spoelstra's shortened rotation.
Unless Jones starts knocking down shots in games that matter, he will probably on a short leash with Jerry Stackhouse on board.
No. 9: LeBron Will Run The Offense
Carlos Arroyo got the start at point guard and didn't stay in the game long.
With Arroyo on the bench, LeBron assumed the ball-handling duties.
It didn't go so well.
He finished with eight turnovers in the game compared to just three assists.
Instead of simply having LeBron walk the ball up the floor, Spoelstra will need to involve him in more pick-and-rolls to help the Heat get easy buckets.
No. 8: Dwyane Wade Looks Rusty
Dwyane Wade looked out of sync from the opening tip Tuesday.
Wade shot just 2-of-10 in the first half and committed five turnovers in 19 minutes.
His minutes were limited in the second half, and he finished with 13 points on 4-of-16 shooting for the game.
Wade looked uncomfortable on his jump shots and tried to force the issue in the lane on several occasions.
After playing just three minutes in the preseason, don't be surprised if it takes D Wade a couple of weeks to look right.
No. 7: Poor Spacing
One of the biggest concerns for the Heat is the ability to shoot from the perimeter.
Tuesday's performance did nothing to ease the belief that Miami doesn't have enough perimeter shooting, especially with Mike Miller out for three months.
With Eddie House and James Jones serving as the only reliable 3-point shooters, the Heat had a difficult time spacing the floor.
The Celtics had little respect for Joel Anthony and dared Carlos Arroyo to shoot, limiting the driving lanes of LeBron and Wade.
Spoelstra might need to think about leaving Eddie House or James Jones on the floor longer.
No. 6: Will Chris Bosh Really Provide A Post-Up Threat?
Chris Bosh is a great scorer, but he does most of his work in the mid-post area.
Bosh had a quiet game, finishing with eight points on just 3-11 shooting.
When the Heat wanted a bucket coming out of a timeout, Spoelstra went to LeBron on the block on at least two occasions.
LeBron does a lot of things well, but he looked uncomfortable posting up.
He rarely went to the block during his time in Cleveland and hasn't demonstrated any proficient post moves.
Without the luxury of a go-to inside scorer, Miami will need to run whenever possible this season.
No. 5: If They Can't Run, They Can't Score
The Celtics' game plan worked to perfection Tuesday night.
Boston bolted back on defense, limiting Miami's transition chances.
On the few occasions when the game sped up, the Heat had considerable success.
Spoelstra knows he won't be able to rely on simply running quality opponents like the Celtics out of the gym.
No. 4: The Problem at The Point
Carlos Arroyo is a solid NBA point guard, but he is an average defender and a very below-average perimeter shooter.
With LeBron and Wade likely to handle the ball the majority of the time, Arroyo has little value on the court.
Mario Chalmers is a much better defender than Arroyo and also a better perimeter shooter.
Spoelstra needs to think about letting Chalmers see significant action once he recovers from his ankle injury.
If Spoestra plays a lineup with either Eddie House or James Jones in the game, the Heat will be extremely vulnerable on the defensive end.
No. 3: Horrible In The Half Court
In many ways, the new-look Heat resembled the old Cavaliers Tuesday night.
With LeBron pounding the ball, the offense grew stagnant in the half court.
There weren't many pick-and-roll sets with Bosh.
There weren't many post ups with Wade or LeBron.
Spoelstra simply gave the ball to LeBron and let him do his thing.
In the long run, Miami will need to find a way to get some easy baskets without having to speed up the game.
No. 2: LeBron Is The Alpha Dog
The Heat looked dead in the water until LeBron woke them up with a dazzling third quarter.
For one night at least, he was the clear alpha dog.
LeBron scored 15 points in the third period, then kept right on going with the Heat still trailing.
He finished with 31 points on 10-of-21 shooting but didn't have his usual solid floor game, finishing with just four rebounds and three assists.
We still don't know who will take the last shot.
No. 1: The Biggest Question Still Hasn't Been Answered
The biggest question remains unanswered after the first game: What kind of chemistry will Dwyane Wade and LeBron James have on the court?
The Heat's two superstars didn't look particularly comfortable on the floor Tuesday night.
With Wade looking rusty, LeBron dominated the ball more than he probably will as the season progresses.
In the end, Tuesday's game provided a painfully small sample size of what is yet to come.
LeBron and Wade will need to find a way to alter their ball-stopping style of play and be effective offensively at the same time.
It's going to be a work in progress.
And it's going to be fun.
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