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).

Highlights: Devin Booker puts up 70 points but Celtics get the win

Highlights: Devin Booker puts up 70 points but Celtics get the win

Highlights from the TD Garden as Devin Booker had a historic performance where he scored 70 points, but it wasn't enough to get the win over the Celtics.

Thomas on Suns: 'We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery'

Thomas on Suns: 'We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery'

BOSTON – Stacking wins on top of wins is the mindset of the Boston Celtics right now, so the players who did speak to the media following Friday’s 130-120 win over Phoenix drove that point home emphatically.

But inside the locker room, it was unusually quiet, the kind of silence you expect following a loss.

Considering how the Celtics’ defense was absolutely thrashed by Devin Booker’s franchise record 70 points, there’s no question at a minimum the Celtics’ pride overall was stung.

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And when Suns coach Earl Watson began calling time-outs and having his team commit fouls at the end of the game, there’s no question it rubbed a few Celtics the wrong way.

“I don’t think anybody has ever seen that; continuing to call time-outs, continuing to foul when we are up 15. But I mean, it was obvious what they were trying to do. They were trying to get him (Booker) the most points possible. Hat off to to him (Booker). He played a hell of a game.”

Following the game, Watson defended his late-game decision making.

“Calling time-outs at the end kept the game close,” he said. “It’s basketball; I’m not coming to any arena to be liked. If people don’t like us while we build … so what? Do something about it.”

The Suns (22-51) never came any closer than 10 points, which was the final score margin.

Al Horford acknowledged that there was some aggravation following the game.

“You can be frustrated when somebody is doing that to you,” he said. “It’s not to one guy, it’s to the team so I think we’re probably more aggravated at ourselves, at least personally I feel that way. I probably could have done a little better, maybe done some different things to prevent it. We got to give him credit, 70 points, I don’t care it’s 70, he got 70. It’s impressive.”

But there will be some inside the Celtics locker room and among their fan base, who were bothered by the Suns’ late-game actions which seemed more focused on Booker getting numbers than anything else.

When asked about being disrespected by the Suns’ late-game strategy, Thomas wanted no part of that conversation.

“It is what it is,” Thomas said. “We won the game. We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery.”

 Boom!