Celtics know when youth should be served


Celtics know when youth should be served

PA ANNOUNCER: "Ladies and gentlemen . . . I need you ALL . . . to get ON YOUR FEET, and help me welcome the NEWEST member of the MIAMI HEAT . . . "

The crowd goes wild, as strobe lights drop down from the ceiling, smoke shoots from the air vents and Jay-Z and Kanyes Lift Off blasts through the speakers.
"Raaay Aaaaaalleeeeeenn!!"

Suddenly, Allen wearing sunglasses, cargo shorts and a Heat City, Bitch tank top emerges from behind the curtain. He turns the corner and meets Chris Bosh with an emphatic chest bump, works a new handshake with Dwyane Wade, and then seeks out LeBron for an emotional bear hug. The foursome then performs the entire dance routine from House Party.

Allen grabs the mic:
"What's up, Mi-AM-miiiiiii?! I only have two words for y'all today. And I want you to say them with me: RE! PEAT! RE! PEAT! RE! PEAT! RE! PEAT! . . ."

OK, so maybe Ray will keep things a little classier this afternoon when he's officially introduced as a member of the hated Heat . . . but that won't make it any easier to swallow.

Even if he was completely justified in leaving. Even if the Celtics are probably better offer for seeing him go. It still hurts. It's still a slap in the face. But hey, what are you going to do?

For all the questions about why Ray left, about what really pushed him over the edge, I still think it comes down to this: He lost his job. Whether it happened over time, or all at once, the Celtics found themselves in a situation they were better without Allen in the starting line up, and at that point, they had two choices.

1. Pretend it wasn't true. Bury Avery Bradley. Keep their future Hall of Famer happy.

2. Do the right thing.

Thankfully, they went with the latter, but a decision like that comes with consequences.

This is one of the dangers of how Danny Ainge and the Celtics have handled the extension of the Big 3 era. This is what happens when you're dealing with superstars at the tail end of their careers; when their bodies are giving up, but their pride and confidence are sharp as ever. Like I've said a million times, I don't think that Ray Allen is a bad person for feeling the way he did during his final days with the Celtics, but there's no question that he lost touch with reality.

And it's fair to wonder: Is this an isolated incident, or a sign of things to come?

After all, the Celtics aren't paying Jeff Green 9 million a year to sit on the bench. And even if they start Green at the four, they didn't bring Brandon Bass back to ride the pine either. So, given the changing face off this team; given the younger, more athletic direction of the NBA on the whole, might there be a few games where the Celtics are more effective with Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Green, Bass and Kevin Garnett?

Is it possible that at some point over the next two seasons, Jeff Green becomes a better fit for the Celtics than Paul Pierce?

I don't know, but I hope so. Don't you? I bet the Celtics do. Not because it would allow them treat Pierce like crap, but because it would mean that the C's are a better team. Because that's all they can afford to care about. Remember last off-season before they lost Green when Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge both publicly suggested that Pierce could come off the bench? How serious they were, we'll never know. But it was obviously on their radar.

OK, I'll stop now, because this is all speculation. I'm just saying that Ray Allen wasn't the first NBA superstar to lose his job to a younger, faster and more athletic player, and he won't be the last. It's just the way of the world. A product of getting older. One of the inevitable risks of rolling the dice with aging Hall of Famers.

The consequences of which are about to play out this afternoon in Miami.

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

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf


Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics will be a bit shorthanded for the first few games of the season with Marcus Smart being out with a left ankle sprain injury.
The Celtics were holding out slim hope that it would heal in time for tomorrow’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Smart confirmed a CSNNE.com report shortly after the injury on October 19 that it would likely be at least a couple weeks before he returned to action.
Following Tuesday’s practice, one in which Smart watched from the sidelines, he gave an update on his ankle injury which occurred in the Celtics’ last preseason game, a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks.
“A couple weeks, that’s the projection (of a return) they gave me,” Smart said. “They want to make sure we can limit this from happening again.”
Smart said the two-week timetable began from the time of his injury, which means it’s likely that he will miss the Celtics’ first four games of the season.
That’s a much rosier timetable than the left ankle sprain injury Smart suffered as a rookie which kept him sidelined for several weeks afterwards.
“It shouldn’t be too long,” Smart said. “Better safe than sorry.”
His absence will certainly have an impact on a Celtics defense that ranked among the NBA’s best a year ago, and has only gotten stronger with the addition of Al Horford.
But the Celtics have been a "next man up" team for since Stevens has been the head coach. With Smart out, that’s not going to change.
“That’ll be a great opportunity for someone else to step up in his place,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas echoed similar thoughts.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next man has to step up,” Thomas said. “Guys have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
And for Smart, it’ll mean displaying his leadership skills from the sideline.
He’s totally comfortable taking on that role right now.
For his teammates, it might take a little bit of getting used to. Smart has been very loquacious on the Celtics sideline since suffering the injury.
“These last four days, he has been yelling … I told him to shut up a few times,” quipped Isaiah Thomas. “That’s just him, especially when he’s not playing. He’s very vocal.”
Terry Rozier, the likely benefactor in terms of minutes played due to Smart’s injury, agreed.
“He’s been sitting right there in that seat,” said Rozier, adding, “and he hasn’t shut up yet. It’s good; you’re going to need a guy like that who is going to talk to you. It’s like a guy, he says things … it’s like he’s been in the league 10 years. He knows his stuff.”
Smart’s knowledge bank includes understanding that his current injury will probably happen again at some point. The key isn’t dealing with the injury, but how you move forward from it.
“This isn’t my first ankle sprain and I know it won’t be my last,” Smart said. “I just have to let it heal on its own and let your body do what it does.”

Celtics pay tribute to Craig Sager in Tuesday's practice

Celtics pay tribute to Craig Sager in Tuesday's practice

WALTHAM, Mass. – At the end of Tuesday’s practice, the Boston Celtics donned a new-look jersey that was, well, quite colorful compared to the green-and-white clad uni-tops they usually wear.
It was in support of longtime NBA sideline reporter Craig Sager, who is currently fighting the good fight in a three-year-battle with leukemia, as well as the SagerStrong foundation.
The NBA on TNT, Nike and the Golden State Warriors will honor the 65-year-old Sager on opening night with Sager-inspired t-shirts, shirts that the Celtics wore on Tuesday followed by a team picture in which all the players as well as Boston’s coaches and support staff, yelled "Sager strong."
“A guy that means a lot to this game of basketball, a guy that means a lot to the NBA, the NBA family,” said Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas in describing Sager. “We wish him well, praying for him and his family daily.”
The shirts were inspired by the outfit he wore when he accepted the Jimmy Valvano Award at the ESPYs this past summer.
“The shirts are nice; look like something he would wear,” Thomas said with a grin. “I wouldn’t wear it, but I know he would.”