Stiemsma tries to stay aggressive, out of foul trouble

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Stiemsma tries to stay aggressive, out of foul trouble

BOSTON -- As the Celtics look ahead to the playoffs, Greg Stiemsma has become a key member of their bench. With Kevin Garnett as the center in a smaller starting lineup following the season-ending wrist injury of Jermaine O'Neal, the 6-11 rookie gives the C's size and defense in their second unit.

Stiemsma has an intense drive to block every shot that comes his way. But in his first year in the NBA, he has learned he has to find the balance between a clean shot and a foul.

He picked up five fouls in 24 minutes during the Celtics 103-79 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday. This season he has fouled out of three games, picked up five fouls in five contests, and is averaging over three a game in March and April as his role increases.

Thats my job, said Stiemsma. It usually happens in the late part of my minutes and I know Im coming out. If I get my sixth foul, Im at least going to try to make it worth it.

Stiemsma has studied game film to analyze his foul troubles. While he doesnt see a specific trend, he has put in extra work on his timing.

"Maybe if I get to look for a block too late, then I sometimes tend to come down a little bit," he said. But I dont know. Even sometimes I still try to jump straight up or jump backwards so Im not the one creating contact, so Ive got to do a better job of that.

With a lack of practice time this season, Stiemsma has been visually learning from the bench. He has paid close attention to Kevin Garnett and his defensive moves.

Im trying to be as much like Kevin as I can, he said. Hes in the right spots all the time. His defensive positioning is right all the time, so if I can get to that level, its going to be tough to not have me on the floor.

With a combination of his experience and learning from those of his teammates, Stiemsma hopes to continue being an effective shot blocker.

Im going to keep playing, Stiemsma said. Im not going to change my style of game. Ill obviously try to be a little bit smarter about it, but at times, too, I dont know what I could do differently to not put myself in that situation.

Thank God they give you six instead of four or five (laughs).

Friday, Jan. 20: Canes’ Bickell tries to carry on after MS diagnosis

Friday, Jan. 20: Canes’ Bickell tries to carry on after MS diagnosis

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while simply skating my lane today.

*A terrific piece on Carolina Hurricanes forward Bryan Bickell getting on with his life after an MS diagnosis, and pushing to see if he can return to the ice.

*If the New York Islanders botch the hirings for people guiding the franchise, then John Tavares could be one of the next figures gone from Brooklyn.

*It’s been a rough go of it for St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen over the past few weeks and that continued on Thursday night.

*Top NHL Draft prospect Nolan Patrick’s value comes from his two-way play, and that’s what teams are focused on rather than the injury issues.

*Mike Babcock talks a wide range of subjects with James Duthie during a 1-on-1 with the Toronto Maple Leafs head coach.

*In his never-ending odyssey on the fringes of the NHL, Seth Griffith has been claimed by the Maple Leafs on waivers for the second time.

*Veteran forward Clarke MacArthur won’t be playing this season for the Ottawa Senators amid his concussion issues.

*For something completely different: Bill Belichick just being Bill Belichick at his press conference on Friday and that’s something we can all be reassured about.

 

Patriots have perfect attendance at final practice of AFC Championship week

Patriots have perfect attendance at final practice of AFC Championship week

FOXBORO -- The Patriots had perfect attendance at Friday's practice, meaning they had all 53 players on their active roster present and accounted for at all three practices this week. 

Contrast that with how things have gone for the Steelers this week, and there is a stark difference. Star running back Le'Veon Bell missed each of his team's first two on-the-field workouts this week, and several Steelers players are dealing with a bug that seems to have circulated the locker room. 

The Patriots could have an interesting game-day roster decision to make should Chris Hogan (thigh), Malcolm Mitchell (knee) and Danny Amendola (ankle) both be healthy enough to play on Sunday. They have not entered a game with five receivers in uniform this season but could potentially dress Mitchell, Amendola, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and Michael Floyd.

Other players listed as limited participants in practice this week are Brandon Bolden (knee), Martellus Bennett (knee), Dont'a Hightower (shoulder) and Jabaal Sheard (knee).