The intensity the Boston Celtics bring in their season opener against the Miami Heat will go unmatched by the 29 other teams in the NBA. The convergence of extenuating circumstances dictates this, and it will lead to Boston sneaking out a narrow win in Miami on Tuesday night.
This will knock the euphoric Heat team and their fans from the high of their pregame banner raising to the reality of an 0-1 record.
Boston has been waiting for this opportunity since the Miami Heat knocked them out of the playoffs with a Game 7 win in the Eastern Conference Finals nearly five months ago.
In the time since that Game 7, the Heat have won a championship, celebrated said championship and signed away one of the Celtics' core players in Ray Allen.
Needless to say, many of the Celtics weren't overly thrilled with Ray joining the Heat, and all of this only fuels their desire to beat the Heat.
This is not to say that the Heat will be looking past Boston, or that they don't look forward to beating Boston in this budding rivalry. It is simply to say that they aren't going to have the same edge as the Celtics in this one, and they shouldn't. The season is far too long to play every game like it is a Game 7.
Check out this quote on the matchup from Celtics coach Doc Rivers per the Associated Press:
If we win, do we get a trophy? We get one win and that's it. And if we lose, which we don't want to do, we get one loss and it doesn't mean we still can't win it. But at the end of the day, we're all human. ... These games, they don't really have more meaning, but they do have more meaning.
That is coach speak for "we will be throwing the kitchen sink onto the court for this game."
This is going to be a fun and well-played game, but look for Miami to work harder on finding the right mix of touches and flow to incorporate new players like Allen, while Boston leans on the talent and chemistry of Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to pull out a 97-94 win.