Stiemsma shows his skills in spot start for Celtics


Stiemsma shows his skills in spot start for Celtics

BOSTON A couple weeks ago, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers needed to make a point to rookie center Greg Stiemsma.

He is a solid defender, and a really good shot-blocker.

But he also can shoot the ball, a point that Rivers has struggled at times to get Stiemsma to buy into.

"We had a silly day," Rivers said, "where he wouldn't shoot and I made him stand in front of the whole team and say, 'My name is Greg Stiemsma and I am a shooter.' And we kept making him repeat it."

Stiemsma appears to have gotten the message on Monday, as he replaced Jermaine O'Neal (hamstring) in the starting lineup in Monday's 100-92 win over Washington.

The 6-foot-11 rookie responded with a career-high 13 points, seven rebounds and a pair of blocked shots in his first NBA start.

"He does what he does," Rivers said of Stiemsma. "For him, the game is simple. He knows what he does. You rarely see him do anything else. He blocks shots; he tries to rebound. He makes these shots."

Rivers said the decision to go with Stiemsma was made during the team's walk-through.

"I just literally walked up to him in our walk-through and said, 'Greg, you're at the 5,'" recalled Rivers.

Stiemsma was excited, but didn't show it.

"This whole time here has been about opportunities," Stiemsma said. "I just look at it as another one."

And that opportunity involves making an impact at both ends of the floor.

Naturally, Celtics players were happy about the win as well as the role Stiemsma played in it.

"I'm happy for Greg," said Boston's Kevin Garnett. "You see a guy come in here, come from the bottom, coming from nothing, he's very appreciative of his opportunity. He comes in and works his ass off; he's a true professional. You're just happy to see a guy get an opportunity like that, and more important, take advantage of it."

As well as Stiesma played on Monday and for that matter this season - he came into the game as the NBA's leader in blocked shots (3.3) per game among rookies and second overall - don't expect for Rivers to make a change at center anytime soon.

"JO is our starter," Rivers said.

Starter or backup, Stiemsma's even-keeled demeanor isn't likely to change.

"With every opportunity I've had I feel like I've tried to step up to the plate and come out and perform well and tonight was another opportunity," Stiemsma said. "I was happy to get the opportunity and to play well on top of that."

But there is a definite downside to Stiemsma's emergence for the Celtics.

"What I hate now, everybody knows who Greg is," Garnett said. "He's not our big secret anymore."

Stevens says Hayward’s ‘spirits were pretty positive’ after surgery

Stevens says Hayward’s ‘spirits were pretty positive’ after surgery

PHILADELPHIA – Thursday was a travel day for the Celtics, but part of the day for Brad Stevens was spent visiting with Gordon Hayward, who underwent successful left ankle surgery that’s expected to keep him out for the rest of the season.
“He’s obviously post-surgery, having some of the post-surgery challenges of pain and everything else,” Stevens said. “The surgery went great. His spirits were pretty positive.”


He is, all things considered, in a very good place.
Stevens and the Celtics plan to do all they can to keep Hayward there as he now finds himself in the early stages of rehabilitation.
“We talked a little about how to approach the next five months, with maintaining that positivity in different ways to stay engaged, different ways to approach this, to attack this. He was ready to get started with his rehab the minute he got out of surgery.”
Eager to help, Stevens reached out to good friend Frank Vogel.
Vogel, who now coaches the Orlando Magic, was the coach of the Indiana Pacers when Paul George went down with a season-ending knee injury while playing for Team USA in 2014.

“It’s really important to just be active, to be as active as you can,” Stevens said. “I called Frank Vogel, the day we drove to the gym to play Milwaukee, just asked him what are some of the things Paul did in his year off that you would encourage? What are some of the things that we should look at?”
Among the tips he received was to work with Hayward on form shooting while sitting in a chair.
“Hey, he’s gonna be the best guy shooting out of a chair with his left hand, right hand, perfect his form,” Stevens said of Hayward. “Let’s have fun, let’s come up with creative ways to attack this.”

With injuries to both ankles, Smart unlikely to play tonight


With injuries to both ankles, Smart unlikely to play tonight

PHILADELPHIA – Things have only gotten worse for the Celtics on the injury front.
Marcus Smart, who replaced an injured Gordon Hayward (left ankle) in the Celtics’ starting lineup, is now unlikely to suit up for tonight’s game against Philadelphia.


Smart, whose left ankle was heavily wrapped prior to Boston’s shoot-around this morning, said he rolled both ankles in the 108-100 loss to Milwaukee on Wednesday.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he had not made a decision on who would replace Smart in the Celtics’ starting lineup tonight.
“We’ll do some work all day and pre-game and make a final determination,” Stevens said.
More to come …