After all the buildup and all the offcourt drama, there was finally a basketball game to be played between the Celtics  and Heat. The start was ragged, which was either a by-product of all the hype, or simply two very good defenses playing all out and contesting every shot, rebound and pass.
Either way, the Celtics took a 45-30 lead into halftime thanks to spectacular defense that held Miami to 27 percent shooting (11-for-41) and forced nine turnovers.
The Celtics took a 16-9 lead after one quarter and the numbers were as ugly as the score suggested. The C’s shot 35 percent (7-for-20) with five turnovers. The Heat were much worse, making just 4-of-17 shots and registering six turnovers.
The Celtics settled down in the second quarter and led by as many as 18 points, but the Heat’s struggles on offense remained.
RAJON RONDO  IS ALREADY MAKING USE OF SHAQ
After a rough start where he missed a couple of chippies at the basket, Shaquille O’Neal  came over to the Celtics bench where Kendrick Perkins  whacked him twice in the head. It must have helped because O’Neal soon converted two dunks off gorgeous feeds from Rajon Rondo.
Rondo racked up six assists in the first quarter and will get a ton of easy assists simply lobbing the ball up to O’Neal. Rondo was the best player on the court in the first half.
CELTICS BIG THREE MAKES ITS POINT
They’re not the original Big Three, but the Celtics version reminded people that they’re still pretty good. Ray Allen  led all scorers with 11 points, while Paul Pierce  filled the stat sheet with eight points, five rebounds and two assists. Kevin Garnett  was active and had good spring in his step, but he also missed a dunk and had another shot blocked. Still, Garnett showed far better range on defense than he showed much of last season.
THE HEAT ARE A WORK IN PROGRESS
Any lingering notion that the Heat would storm the floor and become a juggernaut right off the bat were put to rest early in this game. Dwyane Wade  and LeBron James  shot a combined 2-for-11 in the first quarter and things didn’t improve much from there.
Carlos Arroyo  started at point guard, but Heat coach Erik Spoelstra  went with Wade or James at the point for most of the first half. Miami hasn’t had much time together during the preseason and it showed in the first half. The Heat offense looked disorganized and was obviously inefficient.
NINE MAN ROTATION WITHOUT DELONTE
When Delonte West  returns, the Celtics will be two-deep at every position. Until he returns from his 10-game suspension, however, Doc Rivers  looks like he will go with a nine-man rotation with Marquis Daniels  getting time at both wing positions behind Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.
The Celtics bench was strong in the first half with 14 points and seven rebounds. Daniels led the way with six.