The hype machine officially cranks up today. The Celtics open up against Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Heat Tuesday, which gives the hoops world five whole days to Ginsu the game from every angle.
Phrases like “Biggest Season Opener Ever” will inevitably be thrown around.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers reached for something to compare the magnitude to.
“There was that Atlanta opener,” he said, joking.
The game is big. It’s as big, Rivers said, as the when the Celtics unveiled the Allen-Garnett-Pierce Big Three in a win over the Wizards. The Heat are one-point favorites even though they’re on the road facing the defending Eastern Conference champs.
One of the people who isn’t setting his DVR, though? Rajon Rondo. The three things he wants to get out it: get the season started, get the game over with, get the win.
“For me, it’s not motivation. I could care less if people hype it up. I feel like we have the best team. We have yet to prove it, obviously, because we haven’t played yet, but we’re a self-motivated team. We don’t need the attention. We just go out there and play. We could care less if every game we play is on TV or not. We’re going to try to represent and play as hard as we can each night.
“As soon as we get this first game out of the way, I’ll be glad, because all the hype is around this first game. Obviously the Lakers are the defending champs, so they should have the most hype.”
Jermaine O’Neal practices
After sitting out the last two games of the preseason, Jermaine O’Neal practiced today. He wore a black wrap around his left wrist, saying that he tore cartilage in it taking a charge early on in last Thursdays win over the Raptors.
He put in extra work with Rondo, Tyronn Lue, Von Wafer and Luke Harangody trying to learn get an idea where he should be on certain plays and where Rondo prefers to have picks set for him.
Initially, the play was for O’Neal to start on opening night, but minor injuries (hamstring, back, wrist) never allowed him to get on track during the preseason.
“He went through the whole practice today so that was good,” Rivers said. “But him and Shaq, they’ve still got a lot of work to do, getting all our stuff down. They’re not going to get it all over night. I was more concerned health wise.”
Delonte West (back) was held to skeleton drills and did not participate in practice. He will miss the first 10 games due to suspension. Semih Erden is also nursing a sore shoulder, but he practiced.