GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Sports

October 30, 2012

Heat to get rings, then meet Celtics

MIAMI — LeBron James is finally getting his championship ring.

Somehow, that seems like an ancillary element to opening night in Miami.

It’s Boston vs. Miami, a rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference finals that went seven games before the Heat prevailed. It’s Ray Allen vs. the Celtics for the first time since he left after five seasons to join Boston’s biggest current rival. And, oh, it’s also the night where the Heat celebrate last season’s NBA championship with a splashy ring-and-banner ceremony.

“We’ll honor and respect what we were able to accomplish before the game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

After that? All business — for both teams.

The Heat and Celtics practiced simultaneously Monday in Miami, because Boston arrived a day ahead of schedule to avoid dealing with the brunt of Hurricane Sandy. And both preached the same mantra — yes, it’s a big game, but win or lose, both teams will still have 81 games left to go in the regular season when they wake up Wednesday morning.

“If we win, do we get a trophy? We get one win and that’s it,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “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.”

It comes as no surprise to either side that the schedule-makers sent Boston to Miami for ring night.

“Every time there’s something big going on,” Heat forward Chris Bosh said, “we’re playing the Celtics.”

There has been a slew of upgrades at the arena over the summer — slightly different looks here and there, a new nightclub and restaurant, more concessions and bars for ticketholders to enjoy. The Heat will even offer fans the chance to purchase championship-ring-related merchandise, designed in the same manner as the players’ title-reward jewelry.

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