BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics ran through their final practice on at home Sunday morning before flying out to Miami to take on the Heat Tuesday for Opening Night.
After practicing in front of a crowd of season ticket holders at the TD Garden, they know they will be entering hostile territory as they look to spoil the Heat's ring and banner ceremonies the same way the Heat spoiled their title hopes last season.
"You know it's going to be a playoff anticipation game," said Paul Pierce. "You've got two rivals going at it on day one opening up the season. You expect it to be like a playoff game. 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 and we want to go down there and really try to make a statement."
The Celtics rescheduled their original Monday travel plans to beat out the incoming Hurricane Sandy. This will give them an extra day to get settled in Florida and run through practice.
In spite of all the hype surrounding the Eastern Conference matchup, the Celtics would like to take this as just another game. Oftentimes that's easier said than done.
"Our mindset is just get the win," said Rajon Rondo. "It's one game, it's not Game 7 anymore. It's one game. We want to start the season off right with a win, so that's all it is. It's nothing more. This isn't the championship, so it's just one game."
He continued, "There'll be a lot of hype, anticipation built up. But for us, we just have to stay focused, go down there, do what we do, execute offensively, talk communicate, and win the game."
It has become impossible to look ahead to Opening Night without mentioning the Celtics reunion -- if you'd like to call it that -- with former teammate Ray Allen. For the first time in years, LeBron James is no longer the focus of the matchup. Questions regarding the sharpshooter are unavoidable before game one.
"It is what it is," said Pierce. "There's been enough questions about it. Right now the focus is about Boston Celtics-Miami Heat, and that's about it."
The Celtics and Heat will face off on Tuesday.