MIAMI (Reuters) – The beat the for the second time this season with a 112-107 victory on Thursday led by Ray Allen’s 35 points.
The defeat leaves Miami, who bolstered their lineup in the off-season when they got free agents and Chris Bosh to join Dwyane Wade, with a modest 5-4 record after two straight home defeats.
James was the only member of Miami’s so-called ‘Big Three’ to be truly effective with a team-high 35 points while Bosh had 15 and Wade finished with a season-low eight points to go along with six turnovers.
The Celtics (7-2) beat the Heat 88-80 on the opening night of the NBA season last month but the latest triumph was an even more convincing victory from the Eastern Conference champions.
“These tests show us how far we have to go,” James told reporters.
“Right now we are talented enough to play against these teams but the chemistry right now isn’t up to the level of some of these better teams in the league right now.
“It is kind of difficult for us to stay on point throughout the whole game,” he added.
Boston were quick out of the blocks and grabbed a 14-5 lead from which they never looked back, while Miami looked like a team still trying to find the right mix nine games into the season.
The Celtics were sharper in all areas and led 61-46 at halftime with Allen at his best while Wade struggled failing to make any of his six field goal attempts in the first half.
Allen drained seven three pointers and Paul Pierce added 25 points for the Celtics, who made a statement against a team who fancy their chances of challenging them at the top of the East.
Despite this latest reverse following Tuesday’s defeat to Utah, Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra said there was no cause for alarm yet.
“We are not hitting the panic button by any stretch of imagination. If you were to go back a game and a half ago you would say we were mentally and physically very tough,” he told reporters.
“We are not going to over-react but we are very aware the last game and a half of what happened but we will be the ones who will fix it,” he said.
Indeed Spoelstra believes that come the end of the 82 game regular season, his team will look back on this period as a learning period.
“Probably at the end of the day, you get to March, April this is probably something that will benefit us.
“I know a lot of people maybe thought it was going to happen seamlessly… but you need to face adversity, you need to stumble, to feel this pain, to be able to respond and grow.
“In this last 48 hours they are getting to know each other, this is good, this is what makes you stronger,” he said.
(Editing by John O’Brien)