For the Heat, the game plan was simple for Game 1: Outwork the Celtics.
Refreshed after a few days off, the Heat's players put their energy reserves to good use in the second half, outscoring Boston by 15 points in the final two quarters en route to a 93-79 victory.
"Our game plan was to use our energy and effort here at home, throughout the game," Dwyane Wade said. "We knew throughout this series there was going to be a lot of adjustments made. In Game 1, let's go out and play and use our energy and effort to get this win."
The Heat shot 50 percent from the field despite going 5 of 25 from three-point range. Wade scored 16 points in the second half and finished with 22 points on 8 of 13 shooting. LeBron James had a game-high 32 points, giving 130 points in the Heat's last four playoff games. Combined the Wade and James have scored 251 points since Game 4 against the Pacers.
The Heat dominated all the statistical categories that measure hustle. Miami had 15 more rebounds than the Celtics with Shane Battier pulling down 10 boards and James leading all players with 13 rebounds. Led by three blocks from James, the Heat had 11 blocks as a team to set a postseason high.
IT WAS OVER WHEN...
The Heat went up by 17 points early in the fourth quarter. An emphatic dunk by Joel Anthony gave the Heat a 76-61 lead and, after a timeout by Boston, James slashed his way to the basket for any easy layup to put the game away.
Playing in the first conference game of his career, Shane Battier recorded his first postseason double-double. He had 10 points and 10 rebounds and shut out Brandon Bass.
IN THE PAINT
The Heat had 42 points in the paint compared to 34 for the Celtics. James was 10 of 11 inside the paint for 20 points.
"We have to do a better job of protecting the paint," Celtics coach Doc River said. "There's no way any team should get that many lay-ups, that many point-blank shots against our defense."
Ray Allen is playing injured, so he gets a pass for going 1 of 7 for six points, but the Heat held Paul Pierce to 5 of 18 shooting for 12 points. The Celtics shot 39.5 percent from the field and was 11 of 21 from the free-throw line. The Celtics' free-throw percentage (52.4) was the second worst in Celtics postseason history.
Celtics guard Rajon Rondo averaged over 13 assists against the Heat during the regular season. In Game 1, he had seven and was 8 of 20 from the field for 16 points.
"We're human," Rondo said.
'NOTHING DIRTY BUT'
Expect things to get a little more physical in Game 2.
"We didn't shrink the floor," Rondo said. "We've got to make those guys (Wade and James) play outside the paint...Nothing dirty but they have to hit the deck, too."
PLAY OF THE NIGHT
Wade's balance in the air inside the paint was extraordinary. His left-handed, double-pump layup in traffic was the play of the night for me, but Wade's full-court pass to James in transition was a close second.