Jay-Z's five lessons for the Celtics


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

Still wait-and-see on Smart's status for Celtics' opener


Still wait-and-see on Smart's status for Celtics' opener

BOSTON – Marcus Smart’s sprained left ankle injury continues to heal, but the Celtics remain in wait-and-see mode when it comes to his availability for the season opener on Wednesday against Brooklyn.
Smart sprained the ankle in the second quarter of a 121-96 preseason loss to the New York Knicks when he stepped on the foot of Knicks guard Justin Holliday.
He was helped off the floor by teammates Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas along with head trainer Ed Lacerte.
Since the injury, the Celtics have been pleased with the healing progress of the ankle, the same ankle he sprained as a rookie which kept him out for several weeks.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Smart is no longer in a walking boot and continues to be day-to-day as he receives a steady diet of treatments to help speed up the healing process.
Smart will undergo a series of tests to determine the ankle’s strength, prior to getting any kind of clearance to play.
That’s why Stevens isn’t worried about Smart returning to the floor too soon.
“I trust our staff. Our staff and Marcus will make that decision well,” Stevens said. “Then I play guys, if they are available.”
Smart has established himself as one of the Celtics’ top reserves, with the ability to play both guard positions and some small forward depending on the lineup on the floor. The Celtics have to prepare for the possibility that he will not be able to play in the opener (or the first few games considering Boston opens with three games in four nights.

His absence would create more playing time for Terry Rozier in addition to likely resulting in extended minutes for starters such as Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder.
As eager as Smart is to get back on the floor, he and the Celtics are mindful of the big picture.
This team wants to make a deep playoff run and they’ll everyone – Smart included – to do so.
That’s why as much as Smart wants to get on the floor immediately, he has to remember – or be reminded of – that this is an 82-game season and his long-term value to this team and its goals can’t be taken for granted.

Olynyk cleared for full contact at Celtics' practice


Olynyk cleared for full contact at Celtics' practice

BOSTON - The Celtics got a bit of good news on the injury front with Kelly Olynyk being cleared for full contact.
The 7-foot center participated in most of the Celtics’ drills on Saturday, some of which included contact.
Olynyk said he had been doing some contact work prior to practice Saturday, but in a more controlled setting.
“I’m just trying to ramp it up a little bit more, every day,” Olynyk said. “Just trying to take a step in the right direction every day.”
Olynyk had surgery on his right shoulder in May with him expected to be out for at least five months.
Danny Ainge, C's president of basketball operations, recently said that he anticipated Olynyk returning sometime in the middle of November.
That would put his return about six months out from the time of surgery.

“He did a lot more than he has done,” coach Brad Stevens said. “We’ll see how he feels and progress at the appropriate rate after that.”
One of the strengths that Olynyk brought to the floor when he played was the ability to help space the floor because of his 3-point shooting.
Olynyk was not just a good 3-point shooter for a center, but one of the better 3-point shooters in the NBA last season when he connected on 40.5 percent of his 3s last season.  And it’s clear that last season was not a fluke, evident by him shooting 37.3 percent on 3s for his career.
However, the addition of Al Horford not only solidified the Celtics’ interior defense but also provides them with another stretch center.
Horford, who spent the past nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, shot 34 percent on 3s last season which at the very least, makes him a player that defenses have to respect when he’s outside of the 3-point line.