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NBA notes: Heat, Celtics get things started

 The Miami Heat will take what they hope is their first step toward the NBA championship when a season of title expectations finally opens tonight in Boston. Miami squares off against the reigning Eastern Conference champion Celtics in a matchup loaded with story lines.

 LeBron James’ opener with Miami after seven seasons in Cleveland. Dwyane Wade’s first time with James and Chris Bosh as his Heat running mates. Shaquille O’Neal – once a teammate to both Wade and James – playing his first game in Celtics’ colors. Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett motivated by a Game 7 loss to the Lakers in last season’s finals. Miami’s new Big 3 vs. Boston’s not-so-new Big 3.

 Oh, and the small fact that Wade and James were both ousted from the playoffs by Boston last spring, defeats that helped along their decision to play with one another.

 “I think the NBA did an unbelievable job of picking a great first game,” Wade said.

Associated Press

Tonight’s openers

Miami at Boston, 4:30 p.m. (TNT)

Phoenix at Portland, 7 p.m.

Houston at L.A. Lakers, 7:30 p.m. (TNT)