Celtics Vs. Heat: LeBron James And Co. Hope To Make Another Statement

Celtics coach Doc Rivers doesn't sound optimistic that he'll have Paul Pierce back for Tuesday's game against the Heat.

The Miami Heat couldn't have gotten off to a better start to their 2011-12 season than they did on Christmas Day. Their dominating win over the defending NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks could easily be seen as a loud proclamation that they intend to improve on last year. They'll get another chance to make a statement when they face the Boston Celtics, the team they beat the in Eastern Conference semifinals last year.

Their task appears to have gotten a little bit easier, too, as the Celtics appear likely to be without Paul Pierce. The forward missed the Celtics' opening day loss to the New York Knicks and coach Doc Rivers said he didn't expect Pierce to play against the Heat, either, according to ESPN.

"He worked out (Monday), went pretty well," Rivers said. "He didn't get as sore, so that's a good sign. He's not going to play tonight -- I doubt it, at least."

Judging by the way the Heat opened the season, they are in no need of such breaks. They jumped out to a 15-point first-quarter lead and led the Mavericks by 35 before settling for a 105-94 victory. LeBron James had 37 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in the game, while Dwayne Wade chipped in with 26 points, eight rebounds and six assists despite neither playing much in the fourth quarter.

For more the latest news, updates and analysis, check out SB Nation's NBA coverage. For more of a local angle, check out Heat blog Peninsula Is Mightier and Celtics Blog.

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