Heat expect hostile environment

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

The Miami Thrice expect a rude reception in Boston.Chris Bosh said Boston fans hate opponents a little more than most cities. LeBron James thinks the Garden can be an intimidating place to play. And the Heat are expecting a hostile environment for Tuesday's season-opener against the Celtics. From the Heat Index's Michael Wallace:

MIAMI -- It remains to be seen which player scores the first basket for the Miami Heat when they play the most anticipated season opener in franchise history Tuesday night against the Boston Celtics.

But in the budding rivalry, it was clear on Sunday who took Miami's first shot.

“They’re supposed to hate you,” Miami forward Chris Bosh said after Sunday’s practice when asked what reception he expects the Heat to receive at TD Garden on Tuesday night. "You’re the opposing team. And, it’s Boston. They hate people a little bit more than usual cities.”

The new-look Heat might be a work in progress in developing chemistry between their star trio of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Bosh. But when it comes to how the Heat will handle the hostility they expect to face in Boston, the players seemed to be ready and willing after Sunday’s practice.

Bold roster moves have made the Heat the most polarizing team in the league. But Miami’s players and coaches insist their mental makeup is strong enough to overcome challenges they will face on the court and in the court of public opinion.

Still, Wade, James and Bosh have each had their struggles in the past against Boston. James acknowledged Sunday the Celtics were a tremendous hurdle in his path with Cleveland.

Last season, the Celtics beat Wade’s Heat in the first round before getting past James’ Cavaliers on the way to losing to the Lakers in the NBA Finals. Boston was 4-0 against Bosh’s Raptors in the regular season.

“It’s just drive, not animosity toward that team,” said James, whose Cavaliers were eliminated in the conference semifinals by Boston in six games last season. “That’s a great team. But I’ve had my battles with Boston the last few years. We’re going to take the challenge, and it’s going to be fun to start the season as well.”

James has received a mixed reception during the Heat’s road preseason games. He was cheered loudly when the Heat played Oklahoma City on Oct. 8 in Kansas City, but was booed each time he touched the ball during Miami’s Oct. 21 game against the Hawks.

There is no mystery regarding the reaction from Boston fans.

“They bleed green; that’s all they care about,” James said. “We have to be mentally focused and mentally prepared. Some arenas believe and love basketball more than others. Sometimes, more history adds more intimidation. Not saying it’s an intimidation factor for me. It’s never been an intimidation factor for me. But as far as the crowd and as far as the team, Boston is one of those hostile environments to play.”

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