Stiemsma not letting injuries derail his season

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Stiemsma not letting injuries derail his season

Greg Stiemsma has fought too hard, played too many minutes overseas, and been told no too many times to let injuries hold him back from playing the role he has fought years to attain.

Like most players around the league, Stiemsma is battling through a handful of bumps and bruises during this condensed season. But the 26-year-old rookie center has waited too long for this opportunity to take a seat to aches and pains.

Ive worked too hard to get to this point to let a couple little injuries keep me off the floor, Stiemsma said following the Celtics 88-76 win over the Washington Wizards. Its been a journey to get here, so Im not going to let something little keep me off the floor.

Stiemsma has gone from one of the last to one of the first off the bench due to the season-ending injuries of Jermaine ONeal (wrist) and Chris Wilcox (heart condition). After making late-game appearances during blowouts early on, the 6-11 center is now seeing meaningful playing time.

With that additional time on the court comes additional injuries as well. Stiemsma is battling a bone bruise in his right foot and plantar fasciitis in his left. His previously jammed right thumb is feeling better while his right pinkie finger is slightly bent and bruised.

I took a little chunk out of my right pinkie on one of those blocks in Atlanta, I think, he said. But nothing major, just a flesh wound. Its always been a little crooked so when they first looked at it when I jammed it, I think I made (Celtics athletic trainer) Ed (Lacerte) a little nervous how far it was sticking out. But its alright.

Stiemsma posted 10 points (4-5 FG) and seven rebounds in over 23 minutes on Sunday against the Wizards, the the most minutes of any Celtics reserve.

The whole confidence has been coming, its been building over the year, he said. Right now I feel good about my game. These consistent minutes have really helped too, just knowing that I have to take those shots for the good of the team. If Im standing there open, its a good look for us.

Stiemsmas change in confidence is apparent to his teammates as well.

Just his confidence shooting the ball, said Rondo. Hes knocking down the elbow 15-footer shot, getting a lot of blocks out there, and his defensive rotations are getting better.

Said Kevin Garnett, Gregs been huge since the departure of JO and thats our lack of big men. I think hes stepped in and been solid for the role that we need him. He understands what were doing here, he understands his role, and I think he plays his role very well.

Only in his first NBA season, Stiemsma is already learning to deal with his injuries in order to succeed in his role. He finds it easier to ignore the pain once he is in the flow of the game, and when he does feel it, he keeps on pushing.

Youve just got to fight through it, he said. Like I said, theres not a very good second option.

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

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But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."

Stars, studs and duds: Lillard steps up in second half, overtime

Stars, studs and duds: Lillard steps up in second half, overtime

BOSTON – Saturday was yet another night when the opposing team – this time it was the Portland Trail Blazers – that up the Boston Celtics with an avalanche of points that ended in a 127-123 overtime loss.

And yet through the rubble of all those lay-ups and put-back baskets and mid-range jumpers, Stevens saw something he has not seen in a while – hope that better days defensively were coming sooner rather than later.

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“As crazy as it sounds with them scoring (127) … I actually thought we were a lot closer to defending the way we want to defend," said Stevens. "I thought we were really locked into those guards, and I thought we tried to make it as tough as possible. Those guys are really good players, obviously, but I thought, I thought we did a lot of good things in that regard.”

For the most part, Boston and Portland played a relatively even game that wasn’t decided until the final minute of overtime.

“They just made more plays down the stretch,” said Boston’s Al Horford.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Saturday’s game.

 

STARS

C.J. McCollum

He tends to get second billing to Damian Lillard, but he was a first rate problem for the Celtics. He led the Blazers with 35 points on 11-for-21 shooting.

Damian Lillard

After a foul-troubled first half, Lillard stepped up like the All-Star he is in the second half to finish with 28 points and seven assists which included seven of Portland’s 14 points in overtime.

Isaiah Thomas

It was another dynamic scoring night for Thomas, finishing with a game-high 41 points which included 21 in the fourth quarter and overtime.


STUDS

Terry Rozier

Making the most of his chance to play due to injuries and illnesses, Rozier came up with a number of big shots all night. He finished with 15 points which included a 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds in the fourth that forced overtime.

Mason Plumlee

In addition to doing a solid job protecting the rim, Plumlee also tallied a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds while dishing out a game-high eight assists.

Meyers Leonard

Easily the big X-factor of the game, Leonard had 17 points off the bench on 6-for-7 shooting.

 

DUDS

Celtics Turnovers

This is the one area where the Celtics have been really good all season. Saturday? Not so much. Boston turned the ball over a season-high 21 times which accounted for 34 points for the Blazers.