Stiemsma not letting injuries derail his season


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.

Bruins need to 'find a way to start playing with a lead'

Bruins need to 'find a way to start playing with a lead'

BOSTON -- There’s only so long that a team can hope to thrive, or even survive, in the NHL if they’re constantly chasing the game on the scoreboard, and chasing the puck after digging themselves a hole. The Bruins have been that team in the first couple of weeks during the regular season, and made it five times in five games that they’ve given up the game’s first goal in an eventual 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden.

It’s a pattern that is long past getting old to Bruins head coach Claude Julien, who can’t seem to play the front-runner this season despite three comebacks that have allowed for a 3-2-0 record overall this season.

“I hope it’s not a habit. It’s certainly not what we’re looking for, but there’s no doubt. I think it’s pretty obvious that with the amount of games we’ve played, five games, we haven’t scored first,” said Julien. “We talked about that this morning, trying to get that first goal, and it hasn’t happened yet.”

The start to the game wasn’t really the problem on Saturday night as it’s been a couple of times this season. Instead the Bruins enjoyed a handful of quality scoring chances in the opening 20 minutes against the Habs, but couldn’t come through and finish off those plays when it might have meant an early lead.

Instead it lead to what Julien termed a “terrible” second period that was flat, full of mistakes and ended with the B’s trailing Montreal by a couple of goals. The Bruins scratched and clawed their way to making it a one-goal game in the third period, but that was as close as the Black and Gold would get in losing their ninth straight home game to the arch-rival Canadiens.

“It’s kind of been a story about how things are going for us this far, we’ve got to find a way to start playing with a lead. If you don’t capitalize on your chances, you see what happens when you come out [flat] in the second period,” said Torey Krug, who finished a game-worst minus-3 in the loss for the Bruins. “We had another poor second period and you know it’s kind of… you got to make sure that we put our hand on that and it doesn’t become a thing for the team this year. You see that when you don’t capitalize on chances early, that’s what’s going to happen.”

It’s been a positive development that the Bruins have shown the willingness and backbone to fight back into games after early deficits, and they showed that quality once again on Saturday night by scoring a couple of goals in the third period to keep things close. But the Bruins would be best served if they can start lighting the lamp a little earlier in these games, and see how the other half lives by playing with a comfortable lead every once in a while.