MIAMI, Florida, May 2 – Dwyane Wade had 38 points and LeBron James finished with 22 points, six rebounds and five assists to lead Miami to a 99-90 win over Boston in the opening game of their NBA second-round playoff series.
James Jones had a Heat playoff record 25 points off the bench in a physical Eastern Conference contest that saw Paul Pierce thrown out after getting two technical fouls on Sunday.
"It’s a big game. It’s game one, at home," Wade said. "You’ve got to take care of home court. These guys expect this from me. I wasn’t giving it to them in the regular season versus them and I wanted to come out today and be a leader."
Both of Pierce’s technical fouls came less than a minute apart.
On the first, he took exception to what he thought was excessive contact by Jones in the Miami end while Pierce was making a shot. The two exchanged words and at one point it looked like Pierce might have butted heads with Jones.
Just 59 seconds later Wade got into it with Pierce after the two collided as the Miami star was trying to run through a pick by Pierce.
Pierce, who finished with 19 points, was immediately thrown out by the officials for his second technical with seven minutes remaining.
Boston coach Doc Rivers defended Pierce, saying Jones and Wade were too aggressive.
"I thought both were flagrant fouls, personally," Rivers said.
The second game of the best-of-seven series is Tuesday in Miami.
Ray Allen led the Celtics with 25 points and Delonte West added 10. It marked the first loss for Boston in five playoff games this season.
All-star guard Rajon Rondo and veteran Kevin Garnett combined for a dismal 14 points on just six-of-19 shooting in the loss.
The Heat led by as many as 19 points at one point but the Celtics tried to rally. Allen drained a three pointer late in the game to cut the margin to 90-82 but Wade and Co. answered with back-to-back baskets to restore the comfortable lead.
"Every game is going to go like this," Wade said. "We look forward to the challenge."
The winner of the series will face either Chicago or Atlanta in the Eastern Conference finals for a chance to take on a team from the West for the NBA crown.
The Bulls and Hawks open their series on Monday in Chicago.