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Celtics notebook

They’ll try not to get tripped up

By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / October 27, 2009

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CLEVELAND - The Celtics open their season here tonight against the Cavaliers, in a place they haven’t won at since the 2004-05 season.

“It would be nice,’’ coach Doc Rivers said yesterday at the team’s practice facility in Waltham, Mass. “I don’t think it’s going to make or break our season, or anything like that. Whenever you can beat a very good team on the road, it’s great, especially a team you haven’t had success with on the road.

“I know they’ve improved, but I think all that has to shake out with us. We’ve made changes, Orlando, Cleveland, all three of us think we’ve improved. Somebody may be wrong, so we’ll have to wait and see.’’

Said captain Paul Pierce, “The team is focused and ready for the season to start. We definitely want to get it. Understand this is a new season, we aren’t even thinking about the past, about not getting a win out there. This is a completely different team, we’ve added new players, and we feel like we’re confident going anywhere.

“We’ve been a great road team over the last couple of years, and we feel like we can go in there and get a win. It’s good, it gives you a measure of a state of where you’re at. You’ve got two teams that are contenders for the championship, starting right out of the gate. So it’s great to play these type of games early on, to be in that atmosphere, on the road.

“It’s going to be a playoff-type atmosphere.’’

Sweet on this
Kevin Garnett compared the season opener to a first date.

“It sets everything up, sort of,’’ Garnett said. “In this case it’s a little different, it sets the foundation for what, potentially, we could be. First time, you want to make a good impression on fans, new sponsors, so opening night is a big deal. Open doors, pull chairs out, you know what it is.

“Every year is different. We’ve lost in Cleveland, won in other places. Some teams haven’t won in our building. New team, new year, new goals to achieve.

“As far as going into Cleveland - tough place to play, not easy, but I like our chances. They seem to be a bit better; any time you put a great player like Shaq [O’Neal] on any team he’s going to make you better, not just in a basketball sense - his mentality, preparation, his experience.

“They got some key additions, I anticipate them trying to prove something.’’

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