Arenas takes on more reserved role as Wiz await Celtics

Gilbert Arenas was talking tough in the preseason about facing the remodeled Celtics. Writing to fans in his NBA.com blog, Arenas said "you might as well just cheer for me, because Boston isn't winning in Boston for the season opener. I'm sorry."

"On November 2nd, we're going to go into that building, we're opening up Boston," Arenas wrote. "Right now I'm telling the Boston fans: You guys are going to lose. It's not going to be a victory for Boston."

On the eve of the Wizards-Celtics game, though, "Agent Zero" took much of the steam out of his rhetoric.

When The Washington Times caught up with Arenas after the Wizards lost their season opener at Indiana on Wednesday, all Arenas would say was "Nah, I'm not making any predictions."

Later, in his Wednesday blog posting, Arena addressed the matter again while playing up his own appearance at FleetCenter.

"When I said we were going to beat the Celtics on November 2, was that really a prediction? I don't think I wanted to say, 'Hey, we're going to play Boston and we're going to lose!' " he wrote. "Agent Zero is coming in the building. I'm back. I know all you Boston fans are going to want to go to see Kevin Garnett, but y'all are going to see him 41 games.

"You're only going to see me twice! Me and my handsome self. I got a fresh cut for the Boston and Indiana fans. Break out the Arenas jerseys. I'm coming to town."

Arenas forced overtime against the Pacers with a last-second 3-pointer, part of his 34-point night, but the Wizards lost in overtime.

Meanwhile, excitement has been building in Boston after the Celtics' whirlwind offseason that saw Garnett and Ray Allen come into the fold and become a latter-day "Big Three" along with Paul Pierce. High hopes for the team also are understandable considering the Celtics finished with the NBA's second-worst record in 2006-07.

The Celtics went 24-58 last season and missed the playoffs for the second straight season. Even though that record gave them the second-best chance of getting the first pick in the draft, and the right to select Greg Oden or Kevin Durant, they ended up with just the No. 5 pick.

Washington's DeShawn Stevenson was complimentary of Boston as the Wizards prepared to play Friday.

"They're hot right now," Stevenson, quoted in The Washington Post, said. "They're on ESPN, Sports Illustrated and just about everything else. So as a winner and a competitor, you want to go out there and see where you stack up against a team like that. A lot of people are calling them the best team in the East right now, so we can see how we compare. But at the same time, we also just want to go out and get that first win."