Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers joked that his team would be watching the hit series “Homeland” in the locker room while the Miami Heat had their ring ceremony prior to Tuesday night’s season opener between the clubs, but said LeBron James and company deserved the honor after winning last season’s NBA title.
The Heat defeated the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals in seven games and beat the Oklahoma City in the NBA Finals.
“I won't take this moment for granted,” James said at the Heat’s morning shootaround in Miami. “It doesn't happen to everyone. I know the history of the game. I'm going to live in the moment, I'm not going to sit here and say that I'm not.
“I'll live in the moment because it is not given. I know, I've seen it over and over and over as the years go on.”
Ironically, James and his Cleveland Cavaliers had to witness the Celtics hang Banner 17 in the TD Garden rafters on opening night 2008. The Celtics defeated the Cavs in the Eastern Conference semifinals en route to the 2007-08 title.
“They get to have their day,” Rivers said Tuesday morning. “We had our day and LeBron had to sit and watch that. He’s probably been through several of them now that I think of it. This time it’s his payback night and he deserves it.”
How will the Heat respond on what is sure to be an emotional night for them? Rivers remembered being moved by the opening night ceremony in 2008 and predicted his team would struggle in the game that immediately followed.
“When Paul (Pierce) started crying I remembered turning to my assistant coach and saying ‘We have no chance tonight’ instead of thinking about how nice it was that he was emotional.”
The Celtics actually won that game, 90-85, after trailing by seven points at halftime.
After the Heat won the 2006 NBA title, they got blown out on the night they got their rings at the start of the 2006-07 season, losing to the Chicago Bulls by 42 points. Dwyane Wade was on that team and will participate in his second ring ceremony Tuesday night.
“I am not a good example of the ring ceremony so I keep my mouth shut,” Wade said Tuesday. “I don't want to relive that moment. We didn't do it right so I can't give nobody any advice. If anything, do the opposite of what we did.”
As for what he expects from the Celtics tonight, Rivers said he anticipated it would only be a building block to better things, not a pinnacle.
“Whatever you do tonight, hopefully it’s not the best night of the year,” Rivers said. “That’s the way I always look at opening night. It’s a season of building and it’s a process you have to go through. After the game is over it’s just one game.
“Obviously you’re playing Miami and you add in the Ray (Allen) component to that, even though I don’t think it means as much as people think it does. … I’m sure we’ll be up and they’ll be up, but I guarantee (Heat coach) Erik (Spoelstra) will say the same thing. If this is your best game of the year then you’re in trouble.”
Rivers said he hasn’t spoken with Allen in Miami and didn’t say whether he intended to. Tuesday will mark the first time Allen will face the Celtics in a Heat uniform. Allen defected from the Celtics to join the Heat in the offseason, despite a more lucrative offer from Boston.
As for the makeup of his starting lineup for tonight’s opener, Rivers was mum.
“We’ll tell it later,” he said. “It’s no big deal but we’ll tell it later.”
Information from ESPN.com’s Tom Haberstroh was used in this report.