You can’t say the Celtics’ 99-90 loss to the Heat in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series yesterday wasn’t troubling.
Still, just breathe.
It was only one game.
Sure, there were trouble spots all over the floor. Ray Allen was the only Boston player shooting well. Nobody could guard Dwyane Wade or James Jones. (Yes, James Jones.) And Chris Bosh found his rebounding touch at exactly the wrong time for the Celtics.
But this Eastern Conference semifinal is a long way from over.
If yesterday’s defeat proved anything, it’s this: The C’s mare incapable of simply outclassing Miami, the way they looked so much better than New York in the first round.
If Boston advances, it will be through heart, guile and smarts, rather than simple skill and playmaking.
It’s a good thing, then, that the C’s showed plenty of toughness yesterday.
They couldn’t quite hang with Miami’s high-octane offense, but the Heat enjoyed precious few uncontested minutes. Jermaine O’Neal picked up a flagrant foul on the defensive end. Paul Pierce got himself tossed for a pair of technicals.
The time for playing pretty basketball is over. It’s time for the grind.