But the Heat were impressive in Game 1, taking Jayson Tatum and company apart and earning a 118-107 victory to draw first blood.
Jimmy Butler was equally impressive with 41 points on outstanding efficiency, nine rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks, and Heat legend Dwyane Wade gave him his flowers.
My brother is playing beautiful basketball! It’s a joy to watch.
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) May 18, 2022
Early on, the Celtics were dictating the flow of the game, making Miami uncomfortable with their defense and using it to generate easy baskets in transition.
But after trailing 62-54 at halftime, Miami turned up the heat in the third quarter.
It went on a 22-2 run to take control of the contest, and it did so by turning the tables on the Celtics, stopping them on defense and getting some easy baskets itself.
Tyler Herro had 18 points off the bench while Gabe Vincent added 17 points and three blocks.
Both teams were shorthanded tonight, as the Celtics were without Al Horford and Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, and the Heat didn’t have the services of Kyle Lowry.
Wade would certainly know what it takes to beat the Celtics come playoff time. In 2011 and 2012, his Heat teams got past Kevin Garnett and company, and the latter matchup went down to the wire, as the Heat needed a big fourth quarter in Game 7 to move on.
This is the latest installment in the rivalry between the two franchises and a rematch of the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals when Miami won in six games.