WALTHAM — Chris Wilcox was sitting comfortably before a television, attempting to contain his emotions, the last time the Celtics visited Miami. Wilcox has since recovered from heart surgery, and will be with the team for the season opener against the Heat Tuesday night.
This will be a fresh start for both Wilcox and the Celtics. Only four current Celtics competed in the team’s Game 7 loss to the Heat June 9 in the Eastern Conference finals. And Wilcox has not played in a game since March 7.
“Definitely, we’ve got to get this first game out of the way, and then we’ve just got to compete the rest of the season,” Wilcox said. “We’re not in it for one game, we’re in it for the long haul. We need that 18th banner, so we’re just doing whatever we can to get that. It’s not going to help us win the championship, but we’ll see where we’re at. At the end of the day, we want to be there when it’s time — at the end of the year.”
Wilcox missed the preseason with a back injury, recovering to participate in full workouts last week.
“I’m just trying to fit in,” Wilcox said. “Just try and get in and see what I need to do and where I need to be on the floor. Come in and do what I did last year, run the floor, box out, rebound, bring energy.”
Last season, Wilcox started four times and was among the first options off the bench. But his role has not been established this season.
“We have a lot of guys who can step in,” Wilcox said. “When my number’s called, I’ve got to be ready to go out and perform, and so that’s what I’m trying to do now.
“I’ve got to go out and play hard, just like the rest of the bigs. [Kevin Garnett] goes out and shows us every day what we’ve got to do, so what we’ve got to do is just follow his lead. We’ve got guys who can score. Our job is to get them open.”
Wilcox, playing for his sixth team in 10 seasons, attempted to defuse talk of a rivalry with Ray Allen, who joined the Heat as a free agent.
“That’s what the league is all about,” Wilcox said. “You meet somebody today, they’re traded tomorrow. We’ve just got to go out and compete. Ray hasn’t been here since we’ve been here [training]. We can only go off what we’ve got. We can’t go off what we had last year.”
Wilcox talked about maintaining motivation.
“Intensity was there [last season],” he said. “I came to Game 6, I thought we could close it out. The emotion was there. That’s what we’re working for now, to get back there. Game 7 [a 101-88 loss], I wasn’t in . . . it bothers you all summer until you can get back there and see them again. Hopefully, this time we can give them a good showing.”
. . .
The Celtics canceled practice Saturday and will hold an open session before season ticket-holders at TD Garden Sunday . . . The Celtics will travel to Miami Sunday evening, moving their flight up from Monday due to the storm.
Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at email@example.com.