Even without Chris Bosh, the Heat didn’t have much trouble defending the Celtics’ taller frontcourt as it had in its final regular-season meeting.
The Heat blocked 11 shots and outplayed Boston in the paint in a performance that led to a 93-79 series-opening victory Monday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Miami outrebounded the Celtics 48-33, and Boston only had one blocked shot.
The output is something the Heat hopes sets the tone for a series that it might have to win without its All-Star forward who is still recovering from an abdominal strain.
The frontcourt of 6-11 Kevin Garnett, 6-11 Greg Stiemsma, 6-8 Brandon Bass and 6-7 Paul Pierce played a big role in the Celtics winning three of four games against the Heat during the regular season.
In two of those late-season victories against the Heat — not counting the final meeting where both teams rested key starters — the Celtics finished with a rebounding edge.
Monday was much different.
The Heat’s 11 blocks tied its second-highest playoff output coming up only one shy of the team playoff-record set in 2009 against Atlanta.
The Heat also outscored the Celtics 42-34 in the paint.
Garnett finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds, but few others did any damage to the Heat in the paint. Pierce finished with 12 points, but was not much of a factor, shooting 5 of 18.
Shane Battier, who had given the Heat a lift with his shooting against Indiana, provided plenty of support for Miami again.
But on the defensive end, he played a role along with Miami’s other role players in containing the Celtics.
Battier was in the starting lineup again and played nearly 36 minutes. He finished with 10 points, but had 10 rebounds (eight on the defensive end) and blocked two shots.
Most of the blocks came from Miami’s supporting cast.
Only five of the 11 blocks were delivered by LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. James led the way with 32 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks.
Joel Anthony had six rebounds and blocked two shots. Ronny Turiaf and Mario Chalmers each had five rebounds and a blocked shot.
The Heat’s defense held the Celtics to 11 points in the first quarter — a team record for points allowed in a quarter in a playoff game.
After Boston’s better performance in the second quarter, the Heat responded with another good start to a half with a third quarter in which it allowed only 15 points.