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Celtics begin title defense with win

Banner No. 17 is up in the rafters, and win No. 1 is in the books.

NBA finals MVP Paul Pierce scored 27 points as the defending champion Boston Celtics followed an emotional ring ceremony and banner raising with a 90-85 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night. LeBron James scored 22, but he missed a driving layup with 41 seconds left and two free throws in the last 11 seconds.

In their first meaningful game since beating the Los Angeles Lakers at the new Boston Garden to clinch their record 17th NBA title, the Celtics began the festivities with a 20-minute ceremony to honor the 2007-08 team that brought Pierce to tears.

The Celtics captain — and the longest-tenured member of the team — choked up when he was handed the championship trophy from Hall of Famer John Havlicek, and again when he received his ring from owner Wyc Grousbeck. Once all the players had received their gaudy diamond and emerald baubles, Pierce took the lead in pulling the ropes that slid the ‘‘2008 World Champions’’ banner into the rafters among all the others.