Celtics Host Heat Amidst Finals Level Hoopla

Miami Heat (0-0) at Boston Celtics (0-0)
Tuesday, October 26
7:30 PM ET
Season Game #1, Home Game #1
TD Garden

Referees:  Dan Crawford,  Tony Brothers, Brian Forte 

The regular season is finally here and I don't ever recall an opening night game that has gotten this much media hype.  Both teams have had nagging injuries hit them in camp and both are mostly healthy for opening night.  The Celtics will be missing Delonte West because of his suspension and Kendrick Perkins who is recovering from knee surgery. Because West is suspended, the Celtics will dress only 11 players for tonight's game, putting Semih Erden on the inactive list as well.    The Heat are missing Mike Miller who just had surgery on his injured thumb.  They have added Mario Chalmers and Dexter Pittman to Miller for their inactive players for this game.  

Dwyane Wade missed all but about 3 minutes of the Heat's preseason.  Shaquille O'Neal, Jermaine O'Neal and Delonte West all missed considerable time in the preseason due to various injuries.  Wade should be back in the starting lineup but could be the weak link due to missing most of the preseason.  On the other side, both Shaq and JO will be back in the rotation for the Celtics.  Both O'Neals took their turn at starting with an edge going to Shaq due to the injuries to JO.  I have Shaq starting as of now but that may change by game time.

The Celtics have an advantage in this game as they have been together longer, have a more experienced coach and a deeper bench, and have home court.  The Heat have a lot of hype going for them, LeBron, DWade and Bosh,  and probably the referees.  Time to get it on!!  Banner 18 starts here. 
Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
Rajon Rondo vs Carlos Arroyo

Shooting Guard
Ray Allen vs Dwyane Wade

Small Forward
Paul Pierce vs LeBron James

Power Forward
Kevin Garnett vs Chris Bosh

Shaquille O'Neal vs Joel Anthony

Coach:  Doc Rivers
Preseason Record  7-1
Home 4-0,  Away 3-1

Boston Bench Mob
Marquis Daniels
Glen Davis
Luke Harangody
Nate Robinson
Von Wafer
Jermaine O'Neal

Kendrick Perkins (knee) out
Avery Bradley (ankle) out
Delonte West Suspended
Semih Erden (shoulder) questionable

Coach: Erik Spoelstra
Preseason Record  3-4
Home (3-1) Away 0-3

Miami's Reserves
James Jones
Udonis Haslem
Mario Chalmers
Juwan Howard
Eddie House
Jamaal Magloire
Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Dexter Pittman
Jerry Stackhouse

Mike Miller (thumb)  out

Key Matchups
Paul Pierce  vs  LeBron James
This may be one of the best matchups in the league.  Paul Pierce's resolve and conditioning will get a test as he starts the season with one of the toughest matchups in the league.  With Wade's injury, James once again had to carry a big part of the team's scoring through the preseason.  It will be interesting to see if that continues with Wade back or if they actually can share the ball.

Kevin Garnett vs Chris Bosh
In past matchups between these two, Bosh has always seemed to be intimidated by KG.  It has been established that Bosh is not a leader.  We will see if being with the other 2 amEgos will give him more confidence.  We know that KG is ready to go and will be his old intense self.  We will see how Bosh responds now that he is on a new team.

Ray Allen vs Dwyane Wade
Ordinarily I'd say that this matchup would favor the Heat.  But Wade hasn't played in the preseason and though he says that he is 100% after the hamstring injury, he won't know for sure until he tests it in a game situation.

Boston Bench Mob vs Heat Bench
The benches for these teams may be the difference.   The Celtics bench is deeper and more talented than the Heat bench.  When the starters go out, the Celtics should have the advantage. 
Matchup to Watch
Nate Robinson  vs  Eddie House
Nate Robinson has been a key contributor for the Celtics and figures to be a key to the energy of the Boston Bench Mob this season.  Eddie didn't fare as well in New York and signed with the Heat as a free agent in the off season.   Judging by his recent comments, Eddie bears some ill will toward Boston and will be looking for payback for the trade that sent him to NBA purgatory with the Knicks.