Chris Forsberg/ESPN Boston
A look at the TD Garden floor before Tuesday's game.BOSTON -- A collection of pregame news and notes before the Boston Celtics host the Miami Heat in Tuesday's season opener:
LAYING THE FOUNDATION FOR A RIVALRY
Is Tuesday's season opener the start of a Celtics-Heat rivalry? Celtics coach Doc Rivers seemed lukewarm to that idea, but admitted that any team that stands between you and accomplishing your ultimate goal is a rival. In that light, he could see Boston and Miami quickly escalating to such.
"I don't even know what the hell [a rivalry] is any more," said Rivers. "Everywhere I go they say it's a rivalry. I think, for the moment, it is. With us and Orlando, us and Miami -- a rivalry is anybody in your way to winning a title. If that's a rivalry, then, yes. Lakers and Celtics, that's a rivalry. Even if neither team is good, that's a rivalry. This one's a new one."
Rivers did say that the Celtics aren't ruffled by all the hoopla surrounding the new-look Heat. No, he understands why all the headlines are coming out of South Beach.
"I hear our guys talking about it, but it's not our concern," said Rivers. "We don't care about it. They deserve it in my opinion. They deserve the talk. Listen, this has never happened. We should be talking about it. It's new, it's big. Two of the top three or four players in the MVP voting are on the same team. That's amazing."
And all that chatter means the NBA takes center stage for the night.
"This game is great because no one is talking about football tonight," said Rivers. "I think the season will be even greater, not just this game. There's a lot of good teams out there and a lot of teams improved themselves. That's the East I played in [with the Atlanta Hawks]. That will make [the season] a lot of fun."
With that in mind, Rivers wouldn't mind his troops establishing homecourt advantage early, especially since TD Garden was hardly an imposing place for opponents last season.
"We didn't have that statement all last year. We won more road games than home," said Rivers. "It would be nice to reestablish home for us. That's important. We have to this year. We have to do better. You can make the case, and I have to our guys, if we had taken care of home like normal, Game 7 [of the NBA Finals] would have been at the Boston Garden, not in L.A."
LOOSE BALLS: ERDEN ACTIVE; WHO WANTS A T-SHIRT?
* The Celtics made a last-minute swap, activating rookie center Semih Erden and shifting rookie forward Luke Harnagody to inactive. While Rivers seemed confident that Jermaine O'Neal would be able to log quality minutes Tuesday, the activation of Erden gives Boston an additional big man off the bench.
The Celtics distributed free T-shirts before the game. * Green T-shirts with the retro Celtics logo decorated each seatback at the Garden before the game. The arena was a sea of green before fans entered and swooped up their swag, which featured a season tip-off logo sponsored by Kia Motors on the back.
* Celtics center Kendrick Perkins held a brief session with the media before the game, saying he's aiming for a mid-January return. Perkins, who looks slimmer than recent seasons, admitted he's dropped some weight, but wanted to shed another 10 pounds (to about 260). He quickly changed out of his suit and into his warm-up clothes, saying he had to continue his on-court pregame routine despite the injury.
* A detailed diagram of NBA uniform regulations hung on the wall inside the Celtics' locker room with a clear mention that the headband "logo must be right side up," another confirmation that Rajon Rondo can't keep his upside-down style this season.