Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 10/30/12
The super-deep Celtics team that is supposed to create matchup problems and push the Miami Heat for Eastern Conference supremacy never showed up. If this was the best the Celtics have to throw at the defending champions, then the team in green is in trouble. This is not the final product for the Celtics, however, and one uneven night in October will not doom their season on game No. 1 out of 82. Still, though the Celtics should not be disallowed from the NBA Finals conversation after one loss, the Heat's strong bench production in their 120-107 win on Tuesday assured that the story will not be as simple as Miami's stars versus Boston's depth. The supposedly top-heavy Heat looked plenty balanced when Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis capitalized on holes in the Celtics defense to the tune of 29 combined points. The Celtics' bench, meanwhile, was conspicuously absent until a too-late 16-point flurry by Leandro Barbosa. "You can see that they've played together a little longer than us," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I thought our continuity offensively was better. We made plays offensively, but it wasn't good offense. It's funny, we shot 52 percent and scored 107 points and I didn't think we were very good offensively at all. I thought we had no continuity offensively, and that hurt us on the other end. The bad shots, the forced turnovers got them out on the break." On paper, the Celtics' backups were only outscored 31-29 by their counterparts, but Boston received only 11 combined points from Jason Terry and Jeff Green, who are slated to be the bulwarks of the Celtics bench. It said a lot that the most productive reserve for Boston was Barbosa, the late pickup who was signed for the veteran's minimum as an afterthought mere days before the final preseason game. For all Danny Ainge's careful planning, sometimes the guy who turns out to make the biggest difference is the one who was never in the initial plan. Ask P.J. Brown about that. Pat Riley, the team president of the Heat, clearly had a plan for last offseason and it was to add shooters around his core of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, like many coaches across the NBA, evidently has abandoned all hope of having a true post game. Instead the Heat will rely on James' do-everything skills on the block, on the wing and at the point, and on Bosh's deadly pick-and-pop game. For all of that to work, though, Miami needs to hit shots. They did not do so consistently last year, no matter how your memory may lie to you as a result of a couple of hot shooting nights by Shane Battier and Mike Miller. The Heat were 10th in 3-point field goal percentage and 20th in 3-pointers made per game last season, figures that may have been enough to worry clubs like the Wizards and Cavaliers but did not strike fear into the Celtics or Thunder. If not for herculean performances by James or Miller's sudden revival, last year's conference finals and beyond might have gone very differently. The one thing Allen and Lewis have proved they can do is hit shots. Allen hit 45 percent from downtown last season and Lewis is a career 39 percent shooter from deep, although his last two seasons have been marred by injuries. If both Allen and Lewis stay healthy, the Heat have two shooters who are unlikely to disappear for long stretches like Battier, Miller or James Jones, spreading the floor and making James, Wade and Bosh virtually unguardable. Yet even with two of those three off the floor, the Heat still extended their lead in the third quarter. Rivers called it "the biggest stretch of the game," and it was. It was also the most eye-opening for those who heard the Celtics' oft-repeated lines about depth in the preseason. With Wade on the bench and James in the locker room with leg cramps, the Heat turned an 81-73 lead into a 93-76 game, nixing any realistic chance of a Boston comeback even with James playing only three minutes of the fourth quarter. Rivers said that working all the new pieces on the roster into a cohesive whole would take time. He mentioned that after the game, although the result was not what he had in mind. "We should still win games," Rivers said. "It's going to take time, I said that before the season, but I don't mean taking time and losing games. I mean win games, win ugly at times. Again, I look at the numbers -- 107 points, 52 percent -- but I know as a coach our continuity was horrendous. We never got to the second or third option. It wasn't because of their defense. We didn't allow ourselves to. We didn't trust it. We broke it down a lot. That's going to take time." When Rivers had four All-Stars who had been playing together for several years, it was easier for him to get his players to "trust it." Not only is one of those All-Stars now gone, but pretty much every relevant player replacing him was not part of the team a year ago. The Celtics' depth still could be their greatest weapon, but this loss raised the possibility that the Heat's depth could be one of their greatest weapons as well. Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame or send it here.

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Ric Flair opens up about alcohol abuse: ‘I’ll never drink again’

Report: Orioles not planning to shop Machado in offseason

NFL Scout: Saquon Barkley better than Ezekiel Elliott

No harm will come from MLB extending its netting

Ezekiel Elliott’s attorney speculates on NFL’s motivation for legal battle

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Philip Rivers on 0-2 start: ‘There’s no worry or concern’

NFL players wrote Goodell seeking support for activism

On the similarities between Kyrie Irving and Kobe Bryant

Tickets for 49ers-Rams game at Levi's going for $14

Sixers still open to trading Jahlil Okafor

Aaron Rodgers has funny quote on never beating the Bengals

The 'Chris Sale joins an elite club' quiz

Three Up, Three Down: The home runs just keep on coming

Building on the NFL's positive changes beyond 2017

NFL Week 3 predictions

The 'MLB is as powerful as ever' quiz

After a decade in the WNBA, MVP Sylvia Fowles is ready for the spotlight

College football 2017 Week 4 predictions

10 teams that can unseat the Warriors in 2018

NFL Referee Hotline: Mike McCarthy is sick of these calls

The 'Kevin Durant has mad (Twitter) handles' quiz

Baseball's most underwhelming teams of 2017

The 'Remember the tight ends' quiz

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Three Up, Three Down: The home runs just keep on coming

The 'Chris Sale joins an elite club' quiz

Building on the NFL's positive changes beyond 2017

NFL Week 3 predictions

After a decade in the WNBA, MVP Sylvia Fowles is ready for the spotlight

The 'MLB is as powerful as ever' quiz

10 teams that can unseat the Warriors in 2018

College football 2017 Week 4 predictions

NFL Referee Hotline: Mike McCarthy is sick of these calls

Baseball's most underwhelming teams of 2017

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker