This was a vintage, Cleveland-era James virtuoso performance. James signaled to everyone on the floor that the Heat's fortunes would rest squarely on his shoulders. He repeatedly barreled his way to the rim from the top of the key and was the most responsive Heat defender. Had his long-range attempts fallen, the outcome might have been entirely different.
Designated as the primary ball handler at the outset, Wade struggled to find his rhythm both as a jump shooter and off the dribble. Too often, he fell victim to the Celtics' pressure defense along the sidelines, and was a reluctant passer out of trouble. Defensively, his riverboat gambling contributed to the Heat's woes.
He was a spectator on the most picturesque play of the night, when Rajon Rondo slashed through the gut of a wide-open lane off a high screen and slammed it home untouched. Although he flashed glimmers of confidence, Bosh was again a target on defense pushed around underneath the glass.
The Celtics' sported their usual air-tight defense and meticulous half-court sets, but they built their big first-half lead by pushing the ball. Off seemingly every Miami miss, Rajon Rondo raced the length of the floor against a gaggle of backpedaling Heat defenders and found trailers (hello, Ray Allen) at will.
The Eastern Conference champs proved that their opening-night win over Miami can't be explained away as an aberration, "preseason" game for Dwyane Wade or a throat-clearing. The Celtics are simply more disciplined, better decision-makers and completely devoted to their system on both sides of the ball.