by Marcel Mutoni / @marcel_mutoni

The Boston Celtics may be the defending Eastern Conference champs, but as of last week, a new, star-studded and formidable challenger threatens to knock them off their pedestal.

According to Ray Allen — who recently re-upped with the Celtics for two more seasons — there’s no fear of the new-look Miami Heat within Boston’s locker room.

Allen tells the local media that the C’s can’t wait to go up against LeBron and company next season:

The Celtics guard just wanted to remind everyone that, lest anyone forget, the Celtics are the reigning conference champions. “We look forward to playing (Miami),” he said. “We feel like we’re the better team – the team to beat in the East. We definitely look forward to that matchup.”

The Heat are the preordained favorites, but Allen said nothing’s guaranteed. “The question is are they ready to sacrifice, make the ultimate sacrifice,” Allen said. “It’s not about numbers. It’s not about accolades. When we did this in ’07. That’s what we all knew. That’s what we all said.”

Allen, however, agreed with the parallels that have been drawn between the construction of Miami and how the Celtics came together in the summer oif 2007. “That’s what happened here, and so much is being pointed to what we did here,” he said. “But the question is whether they’re ready to sacrifice – make the ultimate sacrifice. It’s not about numbers. It’s not about accolades. When we did this in `07 that’s what we all knew and what we all said. It didn’t matter.”

The season doesn’t kick off for another three and half months, and already, it feels like rivalries are ready to spring into action immediately.

The Heat are the team with the biggest target on its back now; they better be prepared to take on every team’s best punch.