Will Ray be home for Christmas?


Will Ray be home for Christmas?

So we already know that the Celtics will be in Miami on Opening Night. Or at least we think we know. That's what "sources" say. And considering these sources didn't come from Chris Broussard, I'm comfortable accepting them as truth.

Either way, tonight on ESPN, we'll find out for sure, when the NBA announces its full 2012-2013 schedule. I don't know about you but I can't wait to hear what Magic Johnson and Jon Barry have to say about who's playing who . . . the drama! (Not to mention, I'm sure they won't spend any less than 80 percent of the air time discussing Dwight Howard. What more can you ask for?)

Anyway, all kidding aside, the schedule release should be a lot fun. Between that and the start of Pats training camp, who needs the Sox? It will be great to have something else to look forward to. It will be another sign that while we've still got a ways to go before the season starts, it's not THAT far away. The C's play their first pre-season game in Turkey on October 5. That's only 10 weeks from tomorrow.

Back to the schedule: Aside from Opening night, the day I think we're all most interested in is Christmas. The biggest night of the NBA season.

The Celtics missed out on the Christmas Day festivities in Year One of the Big 3 era, due in large part to the KG trade going down after the schedule was already made. But they've had the honor of playing on Christmas in each of the last four years.

In 2008, they lost to the Lakers in LA (which busted Boston's ridiculous 19-game winning streak). In 2009, they beat the Magic in Orlando without Paul Pierce (thank God for Tony Allen!). In 2010, they lost to the Magic in Orlando without Rondo (21 points for Brandon Bass). Then last year, they kicked off the season with a loss to the Knicks at MSG without Pierce again (but hey, at least KG strangled Billy Walker).

This year, I think it's safe to say we'll see the Celtics on the holiday docket for a fifth straight season. And there's only one opponent one specific player who we all want to see.

Ray Allen and the Miami Heat. In Boston. For the ultimate homecoming.

If David Stern likes ratings and money (and there's not a font size big enough to emphasize that YES) then Ray coming to back to Boston on Christmas is a match made in heaven.

It's a no-brainer. And while there are many instances where you can justifiably accuse the NBA of not having a brain, they're veritable geniuses when it comes to drumming up Christmas Day drama. Let's hope they follow through on this one.

(UPDATE: Rumor has it that we're actually going to see HeatThunder on Christmas. OK, not bad. How about a Christmas double-header for Miami? OKC at Miami at noon; Miami at Boston at 8 pm. Think about it, Stern.)

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics-Magic close at the half

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics-Magic close at the half

Playing without Isaiah Thomas for the first time this season, the Boston Celtics managed to keep the game relatively close with Orlando and went into the half trailing 50-49.
Orlando led for the entire first quarter, only for the Celtics to go ahead 28-27 behind a dunk by Jaylen Brown just 47 seconds into the second quarter. 
Neither team led by more than five points for the rest of the half. 
The Celtics were playing without Thomas (right groin) who leads the team in scoring (26.0) and assists (6.2) this season. 
Replacing him in the starting lineup was Marcus Smart who has five previous starts this season, but each came at the small forward position while Wednesday’s start came at the point.
One of the big concerns the Celtics had coming in was how they would hold their own against the Magic’s beefy, physical frontline that includes Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo and Nikola Vucevic. 
At the half, the Celtics were in a 19-all tie on the boards and actually had a 10-7 advantage in second-chance points.
Here are the Stars, Studs and duds from the first half of Wednesday’s game.

D.J. Augustin

The Magic point guard got hot at the end of the second quarter, finishing the half with a pair of 3’s that were part of a 15-point first half.
Avery Bradley

With no Thomas, there was need for Bradley to step up and deliver more offensively. He led the Celtics with 12 first-half points on 4-for-8 shooting.

Evan Fournier

His shot-making at the start of the game was a big key for the Magic, finishing with 10 first-half points (all in the first quarter) to go with four assists.
Marcus Smart

He’s not going to score like Isaiah Thomas, but Smart can knock down open looks when they come his way. He had nine points in first half on 3-for-4 shooting.


Boston 3-point shooting

The Celtics were brutal from 3-point range in the first half, missing 13 of their 14 3-point attempts. Making matter worst, Orlando was a near-perfect 8-for-10 from 3-point range.