NBA season kicks off with Heat vs. Celtics in a marquee matchup

Ray Allen will make his regular season Miami Heat debut - Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics games are must watch television in 2012. Oct. 30 at 8 p.m is one such opportunity. The game will be televised nationally on TNT.

In the 2010 playoffs, the Celtics downed Dwyane Wade's Miami Heat in five games during a first round playoff matchup.

In the same postseason, the Celtics took out LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the very next round in six games.

Ever since then, James has joined Wade in Miami and the Heat have eliminated the Celtics in the last two postseasons on their way to taking the mantle and being back-to-back Eastern Conference Champions, and last season, NBA champions.

This goes back a few years, you see.

Back to Dwyane Wade proclaiming in 2010 that it would be his last time losing in the first round for a while, after being stung by the Celtics series, a proclamation that has been true to this point. Back to a controversial Rajon Rondo elbow injury in the 2011 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals that some thought was a dirty play by Wade. When that series was over, LeBron James kneeled on the floor for what seemed like an eternity in relief of finally getting past the Celtics in the postseason.

And back to last season's Eastern Conference Finals, where James' historical 45 point game six performance helped the Heat out of a 3-2 hole in the series and propelled them to a championship.

It's what makes the season opener on Oct. 30 at the American Airlines Arena so compelling, and a big reason why the 2012-13 season is perceived to be as anticipated as any season in recent memory. It's fitting that James will receive his first championship ring in a ceremony before playing the Celtics, a team that stood in his way in every meaningful playoff run he has been a part of, with the exception of 2007 and 2009.

Adding fuel to the dynamic of this rivalry is Ray Allen deciding to join the Heat this summer, and Jason Terry, who played a large role in helping the Dallas Mavericks out the Heat in the 2011 finals, deciding to join the Celtics.

But this is still just one regular season basketball game. One that holds very little weight in the context of the season, and will not be a crystal clear depiction of this matchup as it would be when they play later in the season.

Things are developing for both teams. The Heat are bringing along Allen in their rotation and building on an approach from last postseason that features a shorter front court, in terms of height, in it's starting lineup. The Celtics added depth in the offseason and are working in Jeff Green, Courtney Lee, Jared Sullinger and Terry as big parts of their rotation as they attempt to take the conference back.

But given the history between these two teams, and the adrenaline of a season opener, this is as good as the NBA gets in 2012.



NOTES

* The matchup shouldn't be too complicated strategically on defense. Both teams will defend very well in their man-to-man rotations, however, it will be interesting to see how Celtics coach Doc Rivers utilizes Terry off the bench, and whether he employs similar stagger screens to get him loose for jumpers as the Celtics used with Allen. Also, keep an eye on the Celtics frontcourt rotation, and how much playing time Sullinger gets as opposed to Brandon Bass. Sullinger is a more versatile offensive player, and the Heat will have to take that into account.

* It looks like the Heat are opening the season with Udonis Haslem as their backup center, given the Joel Anthony injury. Haslem is a good defender, but would probably struggle with Garnett's length if they match up, so Heat head coach Spoelstra may want to avoid that.

* This is the Heat's 25th season in the league, by the way. Rejoice.

* The Heat will begin its pregame banner and ring ceremony at 7:30 p.m, but are requesting that fans be there at 7 p.m. Show up people.

* Anthony is reportedly still not 100 percent and unlikely to play. He has guarded Garnett a lot in the past, so the Heat will likely rely on Chris Bosh to take on the future Hall of Famer and avoid the Haslem-Garnett matchup.

* The Heat is expected to start Bosh, Shane Battier, James, Wade, and Mario Chalmers, the same lineup it has had since game 2 of the 2012 NBA finals.

* In case you missed it, Hot Hot Hoops previews the Heat season here.



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