Celtics

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

Why did Kyrie want to leave Cavs? He's not saying

Why did Kyrie want to leave Cavs? He's not saying

CLEVELAND – Tonight will be a homecoming of sorts for Kyrie Irving, who spent his first six NBA seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
 
Parting ways is a common occurrence in the NBA so that in itself makes Irving’s return pretty normal.

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Still, this basketball break-up was unlike any we’ve seen in the NBA in recent years.
 
At a time when most players are scurrying as fast as they can to latch on with a title contender, Irving literally went in the opposite direction and asked to be traded from a team that has been to the NBA Finals the past three seasons.
 
And he did so while coming off his best season as an NBA player.
 
So, it only stands to reason that he would be asked about that decision on the eve of his first game back in town.
 
However, Irving’s response to the question did not shed any light on the matter, which is just how he wants it to be.
 
“Well guys, going forward, I want to put that to rest in terms of everyone figuring out or trying to figure out or dive into or continue to dive into a narrative that they have no idea about and that probably will never, ever be divulged because it’s not important,” Irving said. “This was literally a decision that I wanted to make solely based on my happiness and pushing my career forward. I don’t want to pinpoint anything. I will never pinpoint anything because that’s not what real grownups do. They continue to move on with their life and continue to progress. And that’s what I’m gonna continue to do.”
 
Part of that push forward involves helping the Celtics get off to a good start tonight in their season opener at Cleveland.
 
This is a game that’s full of storyline and narratives that only enhance the matchup between arguably the top two teams in the East.
 
But nothing compares to the interest that still exists in Irving’s unexpected decision to ask for a trade back in July, which led to him being traded to Boston for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the rights to Brooklyn's 2018 first- round pick and Miami’s 2020 second-round pick.  
 
“I’m just happy to get the season started, regardless of who we play,” said Irving, 25, an All-Star in four of his six seasons with the Cavs. Obviously, it’s made a much bigger deal because it’s the Cleveland Cavaliers. The situation that happened this summer and being part of a great trade. I’m just truly appreciative of having the opportunity to play this game on the biggest stage and be back here in Cleveland to start the season, it feels different but I’m ready to get started.”
 
In addition to the excitement of the game, Cleveland has reportedly prepared a video tribute to Irving that will play at some point in a stoppage of play tonight.
 
“It’s a great honor and truly appreciative of all individuals who put the video together,” Irving said. “Those special relationships don’t go anywhere; just excited to see a lot of old friends and get on with the game.”

Ditto for Celtics coach Brad Stevens who, like Irving, has maintained a level-headed approach to a game that has so many subplots to it.
 
“I know this sounds like a broken record, but play the next possession to the best of our ability,” Stevens said. “What are we gonna do about that? Ultimately, we’re on the road, people are going to cheer against us. It’s the way it works in the NBA. It’ll be a great atmosphere in here tonight. Focus on the task at hand. We play 82 of these; get used to playing through distractions.”
 
Irving echoed similar sentiments while acknowledging how unique tonight’s opener is for all involved.
 
“It’s just one game,” he said. “We all understand that. For me, it comes with a lot of added incentive to go out there and really have fun and play the game I love. I’m really excited to start this season, and get started with the Boston Celtics and continue on with my career.”