, Newburyport, MA

October 31, 2012

Heat raise banner, then host Celtics in opener

Newburyport Daily News

---- — MIAMI — The last time the Boston Celtics played a game that truly counted, they had to endure a Miami Heat celebration.

New season, same deal.

Only this time, the party came before tip-off — not after the final horn.

LeBron James got his long-awaited first championship ring last night, when the Heat paid homage to last season’s NBA title with a pregame banner-raising ceremony. Dwyane Wade got his second ring, Heat President Pat Riley his eighth, and the party was the prequel to a Celtics-Heat rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference finals that went seven games before Miami advanced.

There was another major story line, of course. It was the first time the Celtics will face Ray Allen as an opponent since he left Boston over the summer and signed with Miami, a decision that his former coach and teammates were most unhappy about.

It was the first marquee game of the season, but not actually the first game of the season. That distinction goes to the Washington-Cleveland matchup, which started on the Cavaliers’ home floor about an hour before Heat-Celtics.

The NBA’s three-game opening slate concluded in Los Angeles, where the revamped Lakers — now with Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to play alongside Kobe Bryant — played host to the Dallas Mavericks.