James-Allen connection will power Heat
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
MIAMI — Late in the second half, Miami Heat forward LeBron James took off on a fast break, barreling toward the basket. Heat guard Ray Allen drifted to the three-point line the corner.
Fearful of Allen spotting up for a wide open three-pointer, Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce and center Kevin Garnett broke down defensively, both players hedging to cover Allen in the corner.
After all, of the 798 three-pointers Allen made as a Celtic in the previous five seasons, how many times did Pierce and Garnett watch him knock one down from the corner? But the Celtics also knows what happens when James has an unimpeded lane to the basket. James threw down one his monstrous two-handed dunks, leaving Garnett and Pierce to blame each other.
It is the kind of play Heat opponents will see often this year, with an alternative ending just as realistic: James passing to Allen for a three-pointer.
In the season opener for both teams, on the night the Heat received their 2011-12 championship rings and raised a championship banner, Miami defeated Boston 120-107. Amid the many storylines — Dwyane Wade’s surprisingly good game coming off knee surgery with 29 points, Pierce’s 25 points, five rebounds, five assists, Rajon Rondo’s quiet double-double (20 points, 13 assists), Chris Bosh’s ever-steady play (19 points, 10 rebounds) the playoff-like atmosphere, the obvious dislike the two teams have for each other (won’t this make another great playoff seasons in May?) — two stood above the others.
James’ pursuit of his second title began the way he finished last season –best player on the court – but the game ended with James watching most of the fourth quarter, including the final seconds in the locker room with leg cramps. Still, he finished 26 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and two assists in 29 minutes.
Allen, who left the Celtics and signed with the Heat as a free agent in July, had been cast as a traitor by the Celtics for going to Boston’s bitter rival. And he provided a strong reminder of what the Celtics are missing shortly after entering the game in the … [For more on LeBron James-Ray Allen connection will power Heat, click here.]