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The Boston Celtics held the Miami Heat to just 32 points in the second half en route to an 85-76 Game 1 victory at the TD Garden on Saturday night.
Unfortunately the victory may have been a costly one for the Celtics. Kevin Garnett was hit with two technical fouls after elbowing Quentin Richardson in the face with 40 seconds remaining in the game. Garnett, the Celtics best interior player and emotional leader, will likely be suspended from Tuesday night’s Game 2 for his actions.
The elbow occurred after Paul Pierce fell near the Miami bench clutching his shoulder. Garnett ran over to see if Pierce was injured, and in the process of clearing a space around him, caught Richardson in the jaw with his left elbow.
“I am smarter than that. I have to keep my composure in a situation like that.,” said Garnett.
Richardson apparently approached Garnett to inbound the ball, because he thought Pierce was faking an injury in order to catch his breath.
“I was trying to get over there to take the ball out of bounds,” Richardson said. “I said to Jermaine, ‘He [Pierce] is OK,’ because I knew nobody touched him. Is he taking a break like he does so many times?”
Garnett took exception to Richardson’s assumption and a bench clearing melee ensued. Both the Heat’s Jermaine O’Neal and the Celtic’s Glen Davis found themselves in the middle of the shoving match, but KG will likely be the only player receiving further punishment for the incident.
The Celtics trailed 44-41 at halftime, but used lock-down defense in the second half to claim the win. Miami superstar Dwayne Wade was held to just 26 points while being blanketed by Boston’s defensive specialist Tony Allen. Wade averaged 33.7 points per game against the Celtics in three games this season. Allen scored a playoff-career high 14 points and Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 16.
Garnett also had a solid game before being ejected. The Celtic’s power forward scored 15 points and gobbled up nine rebounds before being tossed.
After trailing by as many as 14 points in the third quarter, the Celtics picked up their play in the fourth quarter outscoring the Heat 21-10, thanks in large part to the efforts of Tony Allen on defense and Glen Davis on offense. Davis played tough against a much bigger Jermaine O’Neal, and used his 289 pound frame to score a layup and then a tip-in to give the C’s a 73-68 lead; a lead they would never relinquish.
Boston was out-rebounded 23-15 in the first-half, but finished the game with a 40-37 advantage. Davis grabbed eight boards and Rajon Rondo had seven. Rondo also had 10 points and 10 assists, coming ever so close to yet another playoff triple-double.
The hard-fought win should give the Celtics some confidence after finishing the regular season on a 3-10 skid. The series continues Tuesday night in Boston. The tip-off is scheduled for 8:00 PM.