Past the technical fouls. Past the poor refereeing. Past the tiredness from the quick turnaround, the Celtics fell short of a victory because they simply didn't perform in Miami.
Excuses are worth nothing in any professional sport, Celtics fans may be searching for some right now, but head coach Doc Rivers must instead focus on finding solutions. Even though the Celtics were comprehensively beaten in the second half, they were still in touch for into the third quarter after finishing the first half tied at 46-46.
The game may have finished 93-76 eventually, but there are two ways of viewing the game.
Optimists will point to the fact that Rajon Rondo had one of his less engaged performances and that will not continue throughout the series. Paul Pierce had a terrible shooting performance without ever getting to the line. While he may not get to the line this series against the more athletic James, Pierce should shoot the outside shot more consistently.
Pessimists will point to the fact that those things happened while everyone on the Heats roster contributed to their victory impressively.
One thing that Doc Rivers surely must address regardless of what point of view he takes on the game is Ray Allen's minutes. Allen is at a career lowpoint right now. He is shooting his worst field goal percentage in the playoffs ever and has also already missed 12 free throws which is the equivalent of one whole season for him.
Despite struggling to a 1-7 six point performance, Allen still played 39 minutes last night as he chased Dwyane Wade around the court. Most significantly Allen was 1-4 from behind the arc in situations where you would have expected him to score at least three of the four attempts.
Allen is blatantly being hampered by his foot injury which is putting a huge amount of pressure on him at both ends of the court. Something has to be done to address his performances.
When Avery Bradley was fully healthy, Allen played the sixth man role for the Celtics. This perfectly suited the team as a whole and allowed Allen to be the focal point of the second unit. While Bradley may not be available anymore due to a severe shoulder injury, Mickael Pietrus and Keyon Dooling showed enough athleticism last night to warrant more minutes on the court.
Allen doesn't have to revert to the bench from the start, but it wouldn't be out of the question. Regardless of whether he remains in the starting lineup or not, both Dooling and Pietrus need to see more minutes at his expense. Allen's performances could improve if he played closer to 30 minutes per game. Thirty minutes with Allen shooting comfortably and defending well is much more valuable than 39 minutes of struggling.
Dooling gave the Celtics good minutes on the court last night with his energy. It's feasible that he is better suited to defend Dwyane Wade in this series. Even though Lebron James was the dominant force for the Heat last night, Wade scored 22 points on 8-13 shooting.
Wade wasn't challenged enough going to the basket and created havoc on the defensive end for the Celtics. The Celtics don't have the ability to shut down Lebron James, nor can they outscore the Heat in a shootout.
Sacrificing a hall-of-fame shooter, who isn't 100 percent, for better defensive activity is a more prudent move.