— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) July 23, 2012
The NBA couldn't have picked a better matchup to kick off the new season. The last time fans saw these teams match up, the Miami Heat won Game 7 of an incredibly intense and entertaining Eastern Conference finals on their way to the NBA Finals.
It was bitter heartbreak for the C's, as they saw their hopes of getting a second title under Doc Rivers come crashing down. But the series was a launching pad for the Heat, as they jumped into the finals and dominated the Oklahoma City Thunder.
As if the rematch of the Eastern Conference finals wasn't enough, the season opener will feature former Celtic Ray Allen's first game in a Heat jersey. Allen switched allegiances this offseason, opting to play for less money and likely a condensed role in the Heat offense.
The bad blood doesn't just resonate from the last season's playoffs or Ray Allen's switch, either; it has been boiling the last few years, as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade both have had their seasons end at the hands of the Celtics.
Both teams have reloaded their rosters this offseason in attempts to keep up with the league's elite.
In addition to adding Allen, the Heat signed Rashard Lewis to bolster their bench. The two capable shooters make the Heat offense that much more dangerous and flexible, while the team is still in the market for a backup big man as well.
Boston replaced Allen with the signings of Jason Terry and Courtney Lee. The team also locked up Kevin Garnett and used its first-round draft picks to add big men Fab Melo and Jared Sullinger. The influx of youth gives the Celtics more scoring power and a brighter future beyond their aging stars.
This rivalry has become the best in basketball over the last few seasons,. The seven-game ECF series didn't seem like it was enough—once that Game 7 ended, I was hoping the league would switch to a nine-game series for the conference finals.
For the Celtics, having to watch the Heat raise a championship banner right in front of them to start the new season should make the animosity and rivalry even more intense. For the Heat, it will make the night that much sweeter knowing their rivals are looking on in agony.
After a great season of basketball last year, there is no better way to kick off the next year than with this bitter rivalry. The league nailed it with this season opener, and Oct. 30 can't get here soon enough.
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