Bruins

Stiemsma won't relinquish minutes easily

700890.jpg

Stiemsma won't relinquish minutes easily

ATLANTA There is something to be said for being in the right place at the right time.

But recognizing that moment and knowing how to respond to it is an entirely different matter.

Boston Celtics rookie Greg Stiemsma has been in position to play for the C's this season because of injuries to more seasoned veterans. But the opportunity to play means little by itself.

What this rookie has done of late for the Celtics goes beyond just making good on a chance to see more action.

He has grabbed opportunity by the throat and doesn't appear willing to let go anytime soon, even as the Celtics scour the free agent market in search of another big man whose arrival will surely impact Stiemsma's minutes.

To his credit, he's not making it easy for the C's to pull the plug on his playing time.

"That's kind of been the motto; don't give them a reason to pull you out," Stiemsma told CSNNE.com. "Keep giving them lots of reasons to keep you on the floor. I feel like I've been doing a pretty good job of that lately."

With Jermaine O'Neal (wrist) and Chris Wilcox (heart condition) both out for the season, the 7-foot rookie has become the first -- and only -- big man off the bench.

Stiemsma has stepped his game up the last week or so, doing an even better job at what he does best -- blocking shots. In the C's last three games, he has 10.

He's currently second among all rookies with 1.25 blocks per game.

But among the four rookies averaging at least one blocked shot per game, Stiemsma's 10.7 minutes played per game is about half the amount of playing time that the other three rookies (Charlotte's Bismack Biyombo, 19.5 minutes per game; Cleveland's Tristan Thompson, 21 minutes per game; and Denver's Kenneth Faried, 19.9 minutes per game) are getting this season.

His play of late has certainly left a favorable impression on his teammates.

But more than that, it is the work that he has put into his game that has Kevin Garnett singing his praises.

"Steamboat's coming in, giving us what we need whether that's from his effort, his fight every night; whether it's blocking shots, rebounding, actually hitting the 15, 16-footers, being aggressive. That's what we need from him," Garnett said.

"He's been big for us since we've been coming down this stretch; second half he's been even more reliable. He's playing good basketball. We're all happy for him, just because you want to see the hard workers and the grinders of the league get an opportunity and he's taking his."

And Stiemsma's play, Garnett believes, should be rewarded this summer.

"I truly hope that Danny (Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations) rewards him at the end," said Garnett of Stiemsma. "If not us, somebody at the end of the year, gives him something long term to where he can build off of, substantial."

For now, Stiemsma is focused on doing whatever he can do to help the Celtics, preferably with him on the floor.

But if another big man arrives and takes some or all of his minutes away, he says you won't find him complaining or grumbling about his situation.

"I'll welcome him to the team, and hope he can help us win more games," Stiemsma said. "I'm not going to have any hard feelings or anything like that. This has been an amazing season for me, and I want it to keep going. I get to play with a great bunch of guys who have helped make me a much better player. Whatever is for the good of the team, I'm all for that."

Morning Skate: PK Subban rightly recognizes O'Ree as a hockey pioneer

boston-bruins-willie-oree-11818.jpg

Morning Skate: PK Subban rightly recognizes O'Ree as a hockey pioneer

Here are all the hockey links from around the world, and what I’m reading, while wondering when my video tribute is coming.

*Great interview with PK Subban, who appropriately lauds Willie O’Ree for his trailblazing, pioneer accomplishment of breaking through the NHL’s color barrier 60 years ago today. It was very cool that O’Ree did it with the Bruins and even cooler that he was in Boston last night from the Bruins-Habs game at TD Garden.

*Speaking of the Canadiens, old friend Joe Morrow decided to show the Canadiens digital people around Southie this week. That was his big accomplishment in these last two Bruins-Habs games.

*The Winnipeg Jets are having some big success this season, but they’ve also got some serious financial considerations coming up.

*The Colorado Avalanche continue to see attendance issues in their building, but at least there’s a reasonably better product on the ice.

*What is the value for power forward Patrick Maroon on the trade market as a rental? It certainly matters who is asking.

*Jack Johnson and John Tortorella are talking out their issues after it surfaced that the Columbus D-man wants a trade out of town.

*With Victor Hedman injured, it looks like young Tampa Bay D-man Slater Koekkoek is finally going to get a featured look with the Lightning. Per Elliotte Friedman, this is a player that the Bruins have eyed in trade possibilities in the recent past.

*For something completely different: Liam Neeson is open to returning as Qui Gon-Jinn, which adds another interesting piece to a standalone movie for Obi-Wan Kenobi.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Adam Butler to Jalen Ramsey: 'Be humble or be humbled'

ramsey_11418.jpg

Adam Butler to Jalen Ramsey: 'Be humble or be humbled'

FOXBORO -- The Patriots are well aware of Jalen Ramsey's Super Bowl prediction, and they're not about to take the same approach to the AFC title game buildup. 

"If you're going to make a statement like that," Patriots rookie defensive tackle Adam Butler said on Wednesday, "you better be able to back it up . . . It's a bold statement to make. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. But like I said, be humble or be humbled. That's all I can really say about that."

As that quote made the rounds, Ramsey tweeted an emphatic "WHO!???" Didn't seem to be a coincidence.

What Ramsey said, though, is part of who the Jaguars are. They're young. They're confident. They're not afraid to talk. 

"I ain't got too much to say, but y'all make sure you bring that same energy out here next week and the week after," Ramsey said in Jacksonville following his team's plane ride back from Pittsburgh on Saturday. "We're going to the Super Bowl and we're going to win that (expletive)."

Outside of Butler, the comments have garnered little in the way of public commentary from Patriots players. 

"I mean, obviously, that's his game," Patriots cornerback Eric Rowe said of Ramsey. "He's a confident dude . . . Obviously, they're happy to go to the championship game, but, you know, that mindset of thinking ahead of yourself, I don't think it's a good idea . . ."

"We saw what happened to the Steelers. But on our end, obviously, we're not thinking ahead to the [Super Bowl] because we have to get past [the Jaguars]. So, we heard it, but we're not too focused on it because we have to focus on doing our job for the game."