Are you ready for one man's diary of THE MOST ANTICIPATED NBA SEASON OPENER OF ALL TIME? Quick, name me another NBA season opener that was anticipated at all. Doesn't matter, this is LeBron and Wade and Shaq and Craig Sager and who cares if this game has a shelf life of about 12 hours? It's THE MOST ANTICIPATED NBA SEASON OPENER OF ALL TIME!
To the diary we go ...
7:27 p.m. "Runnin' Down a Dream" over PA at Garden. Only a three-year Boston sports ban after Tom Petty sang it at halftime of Giants-Patriots? Guess David Tyree is going to sing the national anthem.
7:30: LeBron introduced -- Laimbeer-level boos. Shocked the commercial didn't win a few people over.
7:32: An hour before the game in the Heat locker room.
Me to Dwyane Wade: "Are you going to talk before the game?
Wade: "Stay straight."
And that's why they send me here. And I'm still not sure if Wade's final words were just his way of telling me to leave or some kind of Tea Party invitation.
7:33: Place goes Level 5 nuts for Shaq.
7:34: Pierce gives a pregame speech to the crowd, something about a banner and asking the crowd to feel something. Very muddled -- not exactly a top-notch production. Can we get the PR crew to whip up a transcription?
7:37: The Celtics win the opening tip and run a play for Shaq, who short-arms a four-footer. Doesn't matter, though, because he wants to dress up as a woman and walk into Subway and he sat on a bench somewhere. I'm Shaq'ed out -- I predict 56 games, 8.6 points and 5.6 rebounds.
7:38: Remember: This is the biggest game of Chris Bosh's career and it's not even Halloween yet.
7:40: Shaq dunks. 4-4 with eight minutes left. Little early to go overboard but Rondo has easily been the best player on the floor. He looks in full "I'm going to screw everyone that was within 500 miles of leaving me off of USA Basketball mode." Oh, and he's not wearing a headband.
7:42: Shaq with an old-school LSU dunk on fast break. Somewhere Dale Brown is confusing a box-in-one with a 2-2-1 zone.
7:46: Timeout Miami, 11-6 Celtics. No answer for Rondo (four assists). The Heat are playing no defense and Erik Spoelstra looks like someone who might want to start thinking of what excuse will look believable on the press release when he gets canned.
7:50: Good news -- the Internet connection is crappy at the Garden. It's not like it's 2010 or anything.
7:52: Wade with the "fake a 3, throw your body into guy" move on Allen. Let it be known that I perfected that move in 1995, complete with the full scream and collapse. It's 14-8 Celtics with three minutes left in what has been a terrible first quarter.
7:55: They just showed a couple of Celtics cheerleaders on the JumboTron during the timeout. One of them was listed as a "five-year veteran," which only means a hell of an arbitration battle next summer.
7:56: Wow, the Heat have no one who can guard Rondo -- getting to the basket whenever he wants.
7:57: So far, LeBron James has done a terrific impression of LeBron in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals. He looks like he'd rather be giving Dan Gilbert a sponge bath than be playing a basketball game. Totally flat, which should be impossible.
8:00: It's 16-9 at the end of the first. Two of the (at worst) five best teams in the NBA both shoot under 35 percent. Can I get an order for a six-team contraction, please?
8:03: Luke Harangody butchers a version of "Tiny Dancer" on the JumboTron in between quarters as a nation longs for a Stillwater reunion.
8:05: Did the Heat have a training camp?
8:07: Eddie House in the game for Miami, picks up a steal and assist. I'll always hold a soft spot for Eddie and his son, who I assume is named Little Eddie House. Little Eddie was on the bench for the Celtics during the 2008 finals, and authored my favorite moment of the series, getting right in Sasha Vujacic's face after a timeout in Game 6. For me that's right up there with Cowens diving on the floor and Bird stealing the ball.
8:09: It's 25-13 Celtics with 8:20 left in the second quarter. Timeout Heat, as Pat Riley starts to stretch in the 'pen.
8:12: Willie Maye is outcoaching Spoelstra at this point.
8:14: LeBron/Wade/Bosh are 4-for-20 from the floor in 35 combined minutes. Marquis Daniels is 3-for-3 in six minutes.
8:16: Big hand for Daniels as he comes out -- he has already done more in six minutes than in all of 2009. Not much from the rest of the bench, though Jermaine O'Neal had NO problem covering Bosh one-on-one.
8:18: Nate Robinson with a cherry-picking layup (World B. Free just made $5) as the lead grows to 31-15. The Heat call timeout No. 46 of the first half. Wonder if Spoelstra is going to draw up the old "Watch me turn into Pat Riley" play.
8:20: The guy who was honored as the "Hero Among Us" during the timeout is a police officer who I think risked his life to save a bunch of kids. His reward? A cheer from the crowd that almost matched the one for the 350-pound guy dancing to "Walking on Sunshine."
8:25: Nobody looks better missing open 14-footers and allowing a guard to go right to the basket than Chris Bosh.
8:28: Ray Allen buries a 3 on a third-shot opportunity. It's 38-20 Celtics. Pathetic effort from the Heat. Morris Buttermaker had his team better prepared in the first act of "The Bad News Bears."
8:30: Assist count? Rondo seven, Heat two.
8:32: Better write this quick: Shaq is a career 100 percent free throw shooter with the Celtics. Makes both with 2:00 left in half, 41-25 Celtics.
8:34: Eddie House only Heat player with any energy tonight. Another steal and pass to LeBron for dunk. It's 41-28 with a minute left in the second quarter. Wow, the city of Miami is going to be extra indifferent tomorrow if this continues.
8:39: Watching the first half it's kind of clear why Chris Bosh has never won a playoff series. He'll obviously be better than this (1-for-8 from the field), but at the end of the day the guy is just a floater. The Heat don't have three great players, they have two great players and a left-handed Bill Cartwright. It's 45-30 at the half as we sit back and listen to John Kiley tickle that organ.
9:00: We're back. I spent the half trying to find the most random Celtic shirt in the crowd, which is not an easy task when you consider the press seats are in the Owen Hart section. I did manage to spot a Xavier McDaniel, though.
9:02: Bosh turnover to kick off the half. He's really good at walking through smoke at press conferences, though.
9:04: Twenty-five minutes into this game and Ray Allen, Rondo and Eddie House have played well. That's it.
9:07: The Heat offense seems to be this: Post LeBron up and the other four guys stand around. That was OK when, you know, one of the 20 best players in NBA history wasn't a teammate.
9:08: The perfect Shaq at the line era is over. What a run it was.
9:10: KG with a jumper, 53-34 Celtics. Garnett looks like the pre-knee KG, but it's Oct. 26. Whether it holds up for the next seven months is THE question for the Celtics this season. Nothing else comes close.
9:11: LeBron with a 3-pointer, 53-38 and the first murmur of concern from the fans (who have been good tonight, they should be rioting for having to fork over serious dough to watch this disaster). Is this the beginning of the run?
9:15: Shaq has been awful tonight, 3-for-7 from the floor, 3-for-8 from the line. Just no lift and no ability to finish near the basket. I'm thinking that isn't going to improve over the course of the season. But hey, he has a TV show and this is Shaqachusetts.
9:19: If George Mikan were allowed to play in the NBA right now -- at age 86 -- he'd look about the same as Zydrunas Ilgauskas just did trying to post up.
9:20: I just looked it up and Mikan has been dead for five years. The comparison still works, though.
9:22: No chant of "Bulls--t" from a crowd really works unless Mr. Fuji or Bobby Heenan is involved.
9:24: Allen with another 3. Hey, this game's only been scheduled for 80 days or so, no reason for the Heat to prepare for Allen running off screens. 60-45 with 3:20 left in the third quarter.
9:26: Remember in the 1970s when 20 stars would get together and star in a remarkably overhyped and amazingly crappy event movie? I'm watching the sports version of "Earthquake!" with LeBron in the Lorne Greene role.
9:30: Eddie House cuts the lead to 10 with another 3. Little Eddie just pushed Luke Harangody.
9:32: Uh-oh. LeBron with his best move of the night, going through four Celtics (including an invisible Jermaine O'Neal) for an easy layup. 63-57 Celtics at the end of three. The truth is that as awful as the Heat have played, the Celtics have done zippo to deserve a win. They've been a little less sucky, which is all you want from your team in THE MOST ANTICIPATED OPENER OF ALL TIME!
(Bet you didn't know that.)
9:37: And to be fair LeBron looked like the best player in the world (15 points) in the third quarter.
9:38: How many coaches would have to be kicked out before Willie Maye took over? I'm smelling an "Eddie" sequel.
9:40: Bad Nate Robinson has showed up tonight -- gunning and forcing like he's on a game show or something (seven shots in 10 minutes -- and I don't get the game show reference either). Could have used Delonte West tonight.
9:44: It's 66-61 with 8:57 left. All the Celtics did last year was kick away fourth-quarter leads, and it seemed to be a big part of the preseason focus. It'll be interesting to see if they go into "Pierce and watch" mode the rest of the way.
9:46: Sure, his schtick is tiring and he drives Doc nuts, but Glen Davis just makes plays. He's 4-for-5 from the field tonight and beat the Heat down the floor a couple of times. Energy, energy, energy. I think he contributes far more than either O'Neal this year.
9:48: Pierce steps into and drills a 3 to put the Celtics up, 73-64, with 7:23 left. First chance for the crowd to make any noise this half. Timeout Miami.
9:52: I'll say this: Mike Miller is going to have a million open 3-pointers when he's healthy. All the Heat do is drive and kick.
9:54: Pierce hits another 3 and then draws a foul on another 3-point attempt. This led to the weakest "MVP" chant in recorded history -- I think it was three guys in Section 222 and Willie Maye. 81-70 with 4:38 left.
9:56: Big Baby with a 14-footer and a mini-wiggle (No. 8 lives!) to put the Celtics up 83-72 with 3:30 left. I'd probably trade Davis for Bosh straight up if I were the Celtics (salary included). Probably.
10:00: Here's the only contribution from Rob Bradford tonight, verbatim: "They just showed Spike Lee and everybody booed."
10:03: As debuts go, Chris Bosh can take a seat next to Sofia Coppola and that sitcom with the Cavemen from the GEICO commercials.
10:05: Back-to-back 3s by LeBron and Wade and it's suddenly an 83-78 game with 1:14 left.
10:06: Bradford all over it again. "Hey, it's a three-point game." He's a bloodhound, folks. LeBron (all of a sudden with 31 points) gets to the basket easily and scores.
10:08: Ray Allen puts the game away with another 3-pointer (his fifth). 86-80 with 27.6 seconds left.
10:11: Fans can smell blood and are now chanting "overrated," which I'm assuming is directed at Donnie Wahlberg for his performance in "Saw III."
10:13: It's an 88-80 final. The Heat are on pace to go 0-82 and Marquis Daniels is shooting 80 percent from the field this season.