|Doc Rivers: C’s just ‘other team that’s playing’||10.25.10 at 8:43 pm ET|
WALTHAM — So finally, thankfully, mercifully no more hype – just the game.
Ever since the game was announced as part of the full NBA schedule on Aug. 10, news and sports outlets across the country and the globe circled Oct. 26 on their calendars as a “must-cover” event at Boston’s TD Garden.
Doc Rivers maintains those news and sports outlets won’t be in Boston Tuesday to see a great game but what they think will be one of the greatest teams in NBA history.
“All eyes will be on the game in Boston, but I think all eyes will really be on Miami. We’re the other team that’s playing and we’re just going to show up. But I’m sure everybody is there to see Miami.
“It’s opening night, it’s great. It’s opening night at home. We’ve had a lot of time to prepare for the game, which is nice, and we’re ready to play.”
Rivers said Monday that he feels confident his team is ready for LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat on Tuesday at TD Garden.
And it’s fitting that James plays his first official game on the same court he played his last for the Cavaliers. But unlike Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals last May 13, James will be playing alongside players named Wade and Bosh, even if those three played very little together in the preseason because of Wade’s nagging hamstring injury.
“I would say it probably hurts them more than it hurts us,” Rivers said. “It probably hurts both teams, not being able to scout them and see what exactly what they’re going to do when they’re all on the floor. You can make the case that not being able to practice at all [together] it may hurt them as much. I don’t think it matters. I guarantee you that Wade will have the ball a lot, so will LeBron and so will Bosh.”
Rivers said he is hardly concerned about being picked to finish third in the East in many polls.
“I don’t mind, whatever,” the coach said. “It doesn’t matter really at the end of the day. Come June, if you’re still playing does it really matter what people chose? They’ve picked Miami, they’ve picked Orlando. Some of picked us but it doesn’t really matter. That, I can tell you, is something I haven’t used at all [as motivation].”
“You have two heavyweights going at it,” C’s captain Paul Pierce added. “A lot of predictions have been made. Everybody is excited for the NBA season. A lot of changes have been made, especially Miami and us. But I’m taking this as just any other regular season game. It’s important for us to get off to a really good start to kind of set the tone for the season.”
Both Pierce and Rivers expect a playoff atmosphere – if not intensity – for the first “Clash of the Titans” this NBA season.
“Definitely have to expect a playoff atmosphere,” Pierce said. “There’s been a lot of buzz going around about this game ever since they put the team [Heat] together. You have two of the top teams or projected top teams in the East. You have to expect a playoff atmosphere and we’re going to come in approaching it like that.”
“It’s opening night,” Rivers said of Tuesday’s season opener, which is also the first game on the NBA’s slate this season.
“It’s great. It’s opening night at home. We’ve had a lot of time to prepare for the game, which is nice, and we’re ready to play. It’s going to be the team that plays the best, and one of the two teams is going to win. Then whoever wins will be annointed Eastern Conference champ for a day then the next day we play Cleveland and it will go away. I get the build up. It is a neat game. It’ll be a lot of fun for everybody.”
After the Celtics take on the Heat, the defending champion Lakers play the Houston Rockets in the other game on NBA opening night, which Rivers reference when he joked, “There must be only one game tomorrow but it’s two, right?”
Added Pierce, “I think we’re ready for Game 1. We still have a lot of stuff to go over. We still have a lot of offense to put in but at this point, I feel very confident about everything and we’re ready.”
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