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Opening Night Eve Notes: Shaq to Start, Defending Lebron & Wade,

 

Lots of happenings going around the web on the eve of the most anticipated opener in NBA history. C’s media relations has said there will be over 500 media credentials given out for the game, making it likely a more covered than even an NBA Finals contest might be. For now, let’s start with a few tidbits from our guy Chris Forsberg over at ESPN Boston reporting on the C’s final practice this afternoon:

On The Starting Center: Shaq by default?

While Rivers said the Celtics haven’t made a formal declaration on who will start at center Tuesday, it’s been widely assumed Shaquille O’Neal will get the call.

“Most likely Shaq, but we haven’t officially announced anything,” said Rivers. “But most likely him.”

With Jermaine O’Neal sidelined through much of training camp (hamstring) and missing four exhibition games in part because of two other ailments (back, left wrist), it’s been widely assumed Shaq would be the starter.

That also appears to be the right decision based on the team’s performance this preseason. Shaq helped open the floor offensively by forcing the opposing center to stick with him and didn’t prove to be as much of a liability defensively as some expected (though Boston certainly has put the onus on its guards to get over screens in the pick-and-roll).

The good news for tomorrow is that the Heat don’t really have any overly offensively capable big men to punish Shaq on the pick and roll. With that said, I expect them to try to lure Shaq out of the paint early and often with Joel Anthony, Chris Bosh or perhaps even Udonis Haslem (if Miami goes small) off the bench setting countless screens for Lebron, Wade, etc at the top of the key forcing the C’s D to react.

A tough test to be sure and my bet is once we get to crunch time Jermaine O’Neal will be the guy in there to make the C’s aged starting corps a bit less vulnerable to the penetration.

As far as the rest of the roster goes, look for a 9 man rotation tomorrow night, with Von Wafer perhaps being the odd man out for minutes. That could change quickly if either Paul Pierce or Ray Allen get into foul trouble (almost probable) in this game, but I don’t expect Doc to go to the bench mob (full 2nd unit) off the bat unless he absoutely has to.

The 12 man active roster is pretty clear as well, with Kendrick Perkins and Delonte West obviously out due to injury and suspension. Avery Bradley is still hurting from his ankle injury so expect the rookie to be in street clothes too. Semih Erden has a banged up shoulder but should dress along with Luke Harangody to fill out the 12 man roster tomorrow.

Guarding Lebron and Wade

Paul Pierce had some great thoughts on it as did Ray Allen from Waltham today:

* Pierce on defending James: “LeBron, he’s definitely an extra-special talent. We had Tony [Allen, now with Memphis] but by no means did Tony defend him by himself. We’re a team defense. It’s hard to defend LeBron one-on-one. They set a lot of plays they run through him, they set a lot of picks for him. He’s so dangerous in transition, so it’s going to be important for five guys to always be aware of where he is. The bad thing about it is they have Dwayne Wade on the other side now, so you know we just have to have our antennas up at all times, along with Chris Bosh, and be very aware where all these guys are on the court at all times. When LeBron has the ball, we have to be low and have one or two guys right there looking at him, and when they swing it to Wade, same thing there.”

Allen stressed that not turning the ball over, something that plagued Boston much of last season and this year during the preseason slate, is key to limiting the damage done by both Wade and James.

“I think, defense-wise, transition defense is important to us,” said Allen. “We have to get back and stop the ball. The Heat have two of best players in the NBA in the open court, so we’ve got to get back and load up our defense. We can’t turn the ball over. We turned the ball over in the preseason, the last couple games we kind of got a handle on it, but if we turn the ball over on this team, they’ll score on us in transition. We have to give our defense a chance to set up.”

I don’t know about you guys by despite his injury, Dwyane Wade is the man I’m worried about most tomorrow night. The guy carried his Heat squad last year against Boston, abusing Ray Allen for most of the series while winning one game in Miami all by himself. A quick look at Wade’s numbers:

33.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 56%FG, 40% 3pt

With some support surrounding him now at multiple positions? The possibilities are endless. The C’s better hope he shows some rust out there.Whose with me on this?

Much more to come tonight….

  • http://twitter.com/KWAPT @KWAPT

    Holy sh*t. 500 credentials…damn.

  • http://twitter.com/M_DeVelaine @M_DeVelaine

    I could have sworn everywhere I've read has said the C's can only dress 11 while D-West is suspended. Is that wrong and we get a pass on that now?

    • I_Love_Green

      Nope you're correct. We can only dress 11.

      • http://twitter.com/M_DeVelaine @M_DeVelaine

        Watching the Twitter feed confirmation of it right now, actually.

  • I_Love_Green

    ATTENTION CELTICS NATION….I need your help. After a horrible ending to the season last year, I decided to retire my "game shirt" as I liked to call it. It was a simple green t-shirt with the Celtic's logo on the front, that I would wear for every game I watched.

    Now that was a great shirt, one that helped lead us to the finals, but now with less than 24 hours until tip off I need to pick my new "game shirt." Here are the options….
    1. A green Rondo t-shirt with his number and name on it.
    2. A grey t-shirt with Boston Celtics in white and green popping out at you.
    3. A grey Eastern Conference Championship shirt from last year.
    or 4. Unexpectadly unretire my game shirt from last year, and go for it one more year.

    Every vote counts, except mine.

    • chuck

      number 2. because #1 is just rondo, # 3 is still a reminder of last year #4 is good for the garbage because well i dont even want to talk about the reason u know it anyways. #2 is by far the best sounding. Go CELTICS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

      • I_Love_Green

        Solid reasonings. Thank you.

    • Batman

      I'm actually wearing #3
      But a jersey is good i think
      I'm still trying to dig up my McHale swingman jersey

      • I_Love_Green

        That Rondo shirt is the closest thing I have to a jersey.

        I guess I'll have to post this tomorrow night when there's more activity.

        • koolaid

          unretire the old jersey. then buy a 2011 NBA Champions shirt to replace it at the end of the year.

          21.5 hours and counting…

          • I_Love_Green

            And koolaid evens the playing field. Thanks for your input.

        • Zain

          Green: Jersey if you can get it. I've got my KG jersey for tomorrow. No on #1, cause we before me. Ubuntu. No on #3, we deal with championships and banners only. No conference champs nonsense. #4 retired is retired, let it rest. If no Jersey, wear #2 until you do pick a jersey.

          • I_Love_Green

            Thank you Zain.

            So two votes for #2, and one vote for #4.

          • Morpheus

            Come on this is easy, clearly has got to be #2.

  • KC

    They dress 11. D West takes a spot. Erden inactive.

  • chuck

    go green!!!!!!!!!! im exited to see Shaq But perk is better

  • JP-

    Wade obviously won't put up the kind of numbers he did in the playoffs, I just hope that we don't turn the ball over, and we rebound. We should have a decided advantage in terms of rebounding on both ends, because of our front court, although Bosh is a good rebounder. I'm in London, so I'll get to watch the game here on NBA League Pass – free trial, thank god

  • John (in Lakersland)

    The Celtics should worry most if Spoelstra implements a run/transition attack. Heats got horses. Celts got Bulls. (Horses are faster.) You've got to think that if Shaq starts, the guy Shaq called Rupaul is going to run on him all night. Get the O2 tanks ready. Mid-20s vs. Mid-30s ain't a good match up.

    Can Rondo calm down for a minute and be willing to slow the pace as his AARP teammates catch up?

    Is Pauline going to pick up his face from the floor each time Lebron burns him?

    Celts have one (and a good one) shot at winning: Control the Tempo.

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