Jay-Z's five lessons for the Celtics

951597.jpg

Jay-Z's five lessons for the Celtics

Tonight, the Brooklyn Nets are in Boston for an Atlantic Division match-up with the Celtics, but at this point theres no official word on whether Jay-Z will be in attendance.

Why would Jay-Z be in attendance?

I don't know. Because he can?

First of all, Boston's so close. Jay could hop on his jet at 6 pm in New York, be courtside at the Garden before 7:30 and then back home to take care of the baby before midnight. Theres also the fact that this is a huge divisional game coming on the heels of an even huger divisional win. Bottom line: The Nets have a chance to make a statement tonight, and with as visible as Jays been so far, you could see him making the trip.

Then again, it's not on national TV, so . . . probably not.

Either way, here are five servings of wisdom from Brooklyns part-owner that can inspire the Celtics tonight and beyond.

I sell ice in the winter, I sell fire in hell, I am a hustler baby, Ill sell water to a well You Dont Know

Over the last few years, Doc Rivers has been celebrated so tirelessly for his ability to relate to and motivate players, that in a way, we've almost come to take it for granted. Of course, that doesn't mean that Doc's perfect. In fact, despite his reputation as a motivational master, there have been a few nights this season where motivation seemed to be the Celtics biggest issue. Still, the power of Doc can't be understated. Here's Kevin Garnett giving his coach credit for inspiring Boston's big win over OKC.

"San Antonio left a bad taste in our mouth," Garnett said. "I know we can play better than that. I told them I know we can play better than that. Doc set us aside and broke us down as a team and I thought it was very helpful. It kind of clarified the air on guys responsibilities, their roles, and we came out and played like it."

Coming into this season, my biggest concern about Doc's proposed "starting line-up by committee" was that it would screw with the mindsets of the three guys involved, and make it hard for the Celtics to develop an identity. And I think we actually saw that start to take effect. But thankfully, or maybe it was just a coincidence, we also saw Doc finally settle on a rotation. The Celtics have now gone five straight games with Rondo-Terry-Pierce-Bass-KG in the starting lineup, and you have to think it's going to stay that way until Avery Bradley's back in the mix.

With the roles more defined, Doc finally get back to doing what he does best: selling his players on a dream, and convincing them that every word out of his mouth is gospel.

Remind yourself. Nobody built like you, you design yourself. A Dream

After a brutal start, Jeff Green has finally shown glimpses of the guy the Celtics need him to be. (Or at the very least, a guy the Celtics can play 20-something minutes a night without feeling like it's 5-on-4.)

But here's the question: Who do the Celtics need him to be?

Have their expectations changed after two months of watching Green closely? Is he still a guy that they believe can be a factor against the Heat? A guy with the ability to grow into one of Boston's most essential and versatile offensive weapons?

I'm not sure.

But I don't think Green needs to spend anymore time worrying about it. In fact, the less time he spends thinking about expectations, the better. Jeff Green just needs to relax and be Jeff Green. And Boston just needs to pray that that's good enough.
Aint nothin wrong with the aim, just gotta change the target. American Dreamin

There's been a strange development in Paul Pierce's game this season. Through 14 games, he's shooting a career-best .431 from three-point land and a career-best .872 from the foul line, BUT . . .

His .428 field goal percentage is his lowest in nine seasons, and the third worst mark of his career. Very weird.

But don't worry, I have a solution: Give it two more weeks, and if things don't clear up, we'll make another appointment and run a few tests.
"If ya'll can't already see, I aint worried about ya'll cause I'm already me." Already Home

At this point, it will probably take another title for Rajon Rondo to officially silence his critics. In the meantime, he'll continue along on his course as one of Boston's most polarizing athletes (and play some damn good basketball along the way). No matter what he does, someone will find a reason to take issue, and set off another long-winded debate.

But guess what? Rondo doesn't care. He's not going to change. He is who he is, and you get the sense he's also pretty happy with who he is. So, you might as well enjoy it.

"Honesty, loyalty, friends and then wealth. Death before dishonor and I tell you what else." Justify My Thug

Back in the September and October, we spent a lot of time comparing this year's team to the 2008 champs. Sure, it was only because they both took a preseason trip to Europe, but the hope was that this year's bonding experience would affect the Celtics in the same way it did back then.

The season started, and those comparisons disappeared faster than Darko, but every once in a while, this year's team still flashes shades of that OG Ubuntu.

Personally, it's never more evident than when one the Celtics hit the floor during a game. Back in 2008, a Celtic would fall and all four teammates would come running. It was like nothing I'd ever seen, and they did it every single time. But over the years that started to fade, so much so that there were moments last season where I can remember seeing a Celtic hit the ground, and then just sit there for a few seconds, almost looking around and waiting for someone to help him up. And didn't always happen. I thought that was a little weird.

But tonight against the Nets, pay close attention the first time, or any time, someone hits the floor. If the first month of this season is any indicator, you'll see that same mad rush.

You'll see visions of 2008.

And . . . you might also see Jay-Z sitting courtside. But he hasn't confirmed with me yet.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Al Horford's strong play propels Celtics to 97-92 win over Kings

Al Horford's strong play propels Celtics to 97-92 win over Kings

BOSTON – You knew Boston’s dominance over the Sacramento Kings at the TD Garden was going to come to an end someday. 

Well that day won’t come around for at least another season as the Celtics’ forgotten man just a couple nights ago, Al Horford, came up with big plays at both ends of the floor that helped propel Boston to a 97-92 win. 

With Boston ahead 95-92 with less than 10 seconds to play, the Kings had one chance to tie the game with a 3-pointer. 

They got the ball to their best player DeMarcus Cousins who tried to draw a foul against his defender, Al Horford. 

Cousins’ attempt to sell there being contact behind the 3-point line was not being bought by the officials. 

After his missed shot, Sacramento’s Garrett Temple fouled Horford with 4.8 seconds to play. 

Horford, who finished with a season-high 26 points, went to the line and made both of the free throws to seal the victory. 

The Celtics (11-8) have now won five of their last seven games overall as they hit the road where they’ve won four in a row away from the TD Garden.

Meanwhile the Kings (7-12) have now lost nine straight at the TD Garden.

Sacramento had swung the game’s momentum in their favor at the end of the third and early in the fourth, but the Celtics refused to go down without a fight. 

A shot by Horford tied the game at 76. And on the ensuing Kings possession, Horford came up with a blocked shot that ultimately led to lay-up for Jonas Jerebko to put Boston up 78-76.

Cousins suffered a cut above his right eye in the fourth quarter and finished with 28 points, nine rebounds and three assists. 

After a Sacramento time-out following Jerebko’s basket, the Celtics came up with another turnover – their 15thforced turnover of the night – that led to a lay-up by Kelly Olynyk.

On the ensuing Olynyk basket, Cousins took a blow to the head on the play that forced him to leave with 7:08to play. 

With no Cousins on the floor, the Celtics tightened up their perimeter defense and made a point of attacking the Sacramento interior immediately.

Isaiah Thomas, who finished with 20 points, converted a three-point play at the 6:33 mark - 35 seconds after Cousins left the game.

The close finish was in stark contrast to how the game begin. 

In Boston’s 121-114 loss to Detroit on Wednesday, Horford only took five shots from the field. 

After the game, head coach Brad Stevens said that should have never happened. 

Jae Crowder called it “unacceptable.”

Well it didn’t take Horford long to get five shot attempts – about five minutes actually. 

And the four-time all-star hit most of them as he helped the Celtics lead by as many as 13 points in the first quarter before the Kings closed out the quarter with a 10-0 run to tie the game at 29. 

Horford led four double figure scorers for Boston which included Thomas, Jae Crowder (16 points) and Avery Bradley (15 points). 

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics hold on to lead after Kings rally back

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics hold on to lead after Kings rally back

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics take a slim 47-46 lead into the half over Sacramento, a team they have dominated at the TD Garden. 

The Celtics are looking to extend their winning streak at home over the Kings to nine in a row with a victory tonight. 

But the Kings are not going to go down easily, as they rallied back from a 13-point deficit in the first quarter. 

After Boston went ahead 29-19, the Kings scored the final 10 points of the quarter to tie it at 29. 

Sacramento took a couple of brief leads in the second, only for the Celtics to get a clutch shot or a timely stop defensively. 

The final points of the half came on a put-back basket by Al Horford which gave Boston a one-point lead that would serve as the margin going into the half. 

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Friday’s game.

 

STARS

Al Horford

After taking just five shots in Wednesday’s loss to Detroit, Horford had as many in the first six minutes. He would finish the half with 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting which included a pair of three-pointers.

DeMarcus Cousins

He had a horrible first half shooting the ball, but there was no denying Cousins’ presence and impact on the game. Despite missing six of his nine shot attempts he still led them with nine points and five rebounds.

 

STUDS

Avery Bradley

He looked a lot more like the Avery Bradley we’ve seen most of this season, and not the one who was a non-factor for most of Wednesday’s loss to Detroit. At the half he had nine points and four rebounds.

Matt Barnes

The oldest player on the floor certainly didn’t look past his prime. The 36-year-old small forward came off the Kings bench to score six points along with grabbing eight rebounds. 

 

DUDS

Rudy Gay

A 19.6 points per game scorer this season, Gay couldn’t get into any kind of flow or rhythm offensively. At the half, he had four points on 2-for-8 shooting which included him missing all four of his three-pointers.