BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston Celtics are ready to kick off the 2012-13 NBA season, and have one thing in mind: Beat the Heat.
From Game 1 of the season to whenever the Celtics’ season ends, that will be the simple message.
Unless they make it to the NBA Finals, that is. Then it will be “Beat The (Whoever Comes Out From The West).”
But it will all start Tuesday night, when the Celtics and Heat open the NBA season in Miami. The Heat will be getting their championship rings and hanging their banner, and the Celtics will have to sit there and watch.
The Celtics were one of the four teams the Heat beat en route to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh’s first title together, sending Boston home in a heated seven-game Eastern Conference finals.
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Even with all the excitement in Miami, the Celtics are expecting the best from the Heat on Tuesday night.
“We played extremely well the night we got our rings (in 2008). We beat Cleveland in front of LeBron, so I think this is LeBron’s payback that he gets his ring in front of us,” Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said following the team’s open practice at the TD Garden on Sunday. “It’s amazing how things turn around. But, on the other side, to us it’s just waiting longer to play. That’s all it is.”
“We’re really bitter with the way the season ended last year so we’re excited to get back out there and get back to competition,” said Celtics captain Paul Pierce. “We still remember Game 7 down in Miami and Game 6 here. We had two opportunities to advance to the NBA Finals, so that’s still in the back of our minds. We’re going to go down there and really try to make a statement.”
In addition to watching Miami get their rings and raise their banner, the Celtics will also face former teammate Ray Allen for the first time since he joined the Heat over the summer. It’s been an offseason filled with back-and-forth between Allen and his former team, and on Tuesday, they’ll finally be able to put it all behind them — or so they say.
“We can move on,” Allen told reporters in Miami. “We can move on. I think it’s two-fold, having a ring ceremony and then playing Boston. It’s like both situations, letting go of what happened last year and moving forward. They’re repeating, but I’m on the quest for a championship. That’s a challenge that we’re all facing together.”
“It is what it is,” Pierce said of facing Allen. “There’s been enough questions about it. Right now the focus is on the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat, and that’s about it.”
Some of the Celtics didn’t want to talk about the “reunion” of sorts.
“You’ll have to ask me after the game,” said point guard Rajon Rondo, whose issues with Allen have been well-documented. “It doesn’t make a difference.”
Rivers knows he’ll have plenty of Ray Allen questions coming his way before, after and maybe even during Tuesday’s game, but he has an easy solution for dealing with them.
“I expect them, it doesn’t mean I’m going to answer them,” he said on Sunday with a smile.