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.

Bruins sign pair of draft picks, including BC's Fitzgerald, to entry-level deals

Bruins sign pair of draft picks, including BC's Fitzgerald, to entry-level deals

Amidst the current turmoil at the NHL level, the Bruins delivered a little good news about the future today . . . with more potentially to come. 

The Bruins announced the signing of a pair of prospects/former draft picks -- Boston College forward Ryan Fitzgerald and defenseman Emil Johansson -- to entry-level contracts that will kick in next season. There will likely be another wave of signings with the Bruins from the amateur ranks once players like Charlie McAvoy, Anders Bjork and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson are finished up with their college teams in the NCAA tournament, though it remains to be seen exactly which players end up taking the NHL plunge. 

There was some uncertainty as to whether Fitzgerald would definitely sign with Boston after completing his senior season at BC, but he will immediately join the Providence Bruins on an amateur tryout agreement after signing a two-year deal. Johansson will join the Bruins on a Professional Tryout Agreement with a three-year entry level deal that kicks off next season. 

The 5-foot-10, 177-pound Fitzgerald was an alternate captain for BC in 2016-17, with 12 goals and 19 assists for 31 points in 34 games with 56 penalty minutes and a plus-14 rating. Fitzgerald is also the son of Billerica native and former Bruins forward Tommy Fitzgerald, who took to Twitter on Friday to voice his overwhelming pride over his oldest signing an NHL contract. He was a fourth-round pick by the Bruins in 2013.

Johansson, 20, completed his first season with Djurgardens IF of the Swedish Hockey League in 2016-17, establishing career highs with 7 goals and 10 assists for 17 points with 26 penalty minutes in 49 games. The B's selected him in the seventh round in 2014.

Report: Clippers' Griffin willing to consider Celtics in free agency

Report: Clippers' Griffin willing to consider Celtics in free agency

With all attention focused on overtaking the Cavs for the No. 1 seed in the East, the offseason -- trades, the draft, free agency -- is on the backburner in Celtics Nation these days.

But that pot's still simmering,

And it began to boil a little today when Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding, in the middle of a story on the Clippers being at a crossroad, threw a little accelerant on that old Blake Griffin-to-Boston flame . . .

But more and more people around the league believe he would be open to a fresh start — perhaps with the Lakers or the Boston Celtics, who have coveted Griffin for years and would offer a new chance to win. The most intriguing fit might be if he were to go home to Oklahoma to join Russell Westbrook and the Thunder, but his interests in the entertainment industry make staying in Los Angeles a priority.

Not much of a thread to grab there. But that didn't prevent cbssports.com's James Herbert from looking into it . . .  

Jumping to another contender on a max contract might not be simple. As CelticsBlog’s Keith P. Smith pointed out, Boston would have to dump Terry Rozier, waive Tyler Zeller and renounce all its free agents, including Kelly Olynyk, Jonas Jerebko and Amir Johnson, in order to even get near the amount of cap room that would be required to offer Griffin or someone like Gordon Hayward a max deal. 

Then again, Herbert says the Lakers and Thunder, Griffin's supposed other two destination spots, are even less financially flexible than the C's.

For now, it's all just a temporary diversion from the battle for No. 1.

It's also a reminder, though, that a whole new season -- the offseason -- is just around the corner.