Jay-Z's five lessons for the Celtics

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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

Jaylen Brown may be the future of Celtics, but he's focused on now

Jaylen Brown may be the future of Celtics, but he's focused on now

BOSTON – This is not how this is supposed to work.

When the regular season ends for high draft picks, there’s usually a nice, warm island awaiting their arrival in late-April when the regular season ends.

But this was no typical rookie season for Boston’s Jaylen Brown.

And as we have seen, Brown isn’t your typical rookie.

Drafted with the third overall pick in last June’s NBA draft, the 6-foot-7 Brown found himself in the rotation on a Celtics team that advanced all the way to the Eastern Conference finals before having their season end at the hands of the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

The path towards individual and team success is littered with struggles and potholes of strife along with the pain of disappointment cluttering up things as well.

From within that rubble lies promise; the kind that has Celtics Nation justifiably excited about the future of Brown with the Celtics.

But Brown isn’t about the future, folks.

“I’m excited about the now,” he said. “I’m excited about this summer. I try not to look too far ahead. Everybody talks about the future and how much potential we have; I’m worried about the now. I want to be part of the now. That’s all I’m focused on.”

That kind of focus is among the many reasons that despite being a rookie, his teammates quickly sensed that the now-20-year-old had his sights set on not just talking about cracking the rotation but actually putting in the work that would leave head coach Brad Stevens no choice but to play him.

“He’s going to be really good,” said Boston’s Gerald Green. “If he keeps his same mentality; he’s humble. And continue to work on his game and continue to learn.

Green added, “he couldn’t be in a better place, than being here. With his talent and his work ethic, he’s going to be great.”

But like most rookies, Brown’s play was anything but a steady on-the-rise movement.

His first NBA start came on the road at Cleveland on Nov. 3.

Boston lost the game, but Brown won over many with his career-high 19 points while spending a good deal of the night guarding LeBron James.

In his next four games, Brown scored a total of just 17 points.

And in Boston’s first-round series with Chicago, Brown's role shrunk in the last four games – all Celtics wins. In those games, he played a total of just under 10 minutes.

So what did he do?

He got back in the gym, continued to work on his game and do a better job at making the most of the minutes he received.

More than anything else, Brown attributes his improved play as the season progressed to simply figuring out the NBA landscape as far as what he could do and what he needed to work on, to get better.

Which is why there are many who believe that Brown will be a much better player than the one we saw this season.

That said, he still had decent numbers – 6.6 points and 2.8 rebounds while shooting 45.4 percent from the field and 34.1 percent from 3-point range.

“I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, coming into the NBA,” Brown said. “Throughout the year, I don’t think people expected me to contribute as much as I did. Now just getting to the Eastern  Conference finals and losing, it builds a hunger you know;  I have a bad taste in my mouth. Gotta put in work during the offseason and come back stronger.”

Like Brown, Al Horford came into the NBA as a high draft pick who wound up in the playoffs that rookie season.

Horford can totally relate to Brown’s comments about not knowing what he was getting into.

“The first year you’re really feeling everything out,” Horford said. “Jaylen has an understanding now of what the league is about. It’s a lot for a rookie to handle. Now he has a better idea (so) he can just focus on getting better, working on his game and I expect him to be much better his second year.”

Brown will have the knowledge gained from being part of a team that came within three wins of getting to the NBA Finals.

To come that close is tough to accept, but Brown sees it all as part of a bigger plan for him and his role with the Celtics moving forward.

“I can use it as fuel. I’ve been learning all year,” Brown said. “I’ve had ups, I’ve had downs, I’ve had opportunities, I’ve had mistakes. So I’ve been learning and growing and improving all year and I’m going to continue to grow and improve and prove people wrong, prove doubters wrong.”

And that process Brown speaks of has certainly been aided by being in a successful situation like Boston compared to some other lottery picks who saw lots of playing time but showed minimal growth playing lots of minutes.

“Being on a winning team and developing good habits, learning how to win, play the game the right way … learning that at a young age is really going to help me,” Brown said. “A lot of young guys, they don’t learn that early. They have to figure it out three, four, five years in. I’m happy I learned it now.”

And while the learning will continue on for Brown during this offseason, it won’t be nearly as tough now than it was when he came into the league.

“I know exactly what I’m preparing for,” Brown said. “I expect a really different result.”

Brown added, “I want to be ready for whatever is thrown at me; no excuses whatsoever.”

Now that’s how this is supposed to work!