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Stiem Engine Chugging Along

 

I have been lightly jabbing Ryan ever since the Sacramento game when he offered his not-so-delicate scouting report of Greg Stiemsma. I can only imagine his succinct, “Greg Stiemsma is not an NBA player” was a fueled by frustration. I don’t have any particular memories of Stiemsma from that night because the only thing I see when I close my eyes is Marcus Thornton raining threes from the left wing. Seriously, the image still haunts me to this day. The rest is just a green and purple blur.

I don’t know a single person who didn’t shake their head after that game, so let me be the first to say I’ve been unfair to my dear friend Ryan. First of all, that game against Sacramento was pathetically awful and no Celtic should have escaped the wrath of those who cover them (similar to the recap of a Raptors loss from earlier in the season that some idiot wrote). Second of all, clearly publishing those words had some cosmic effect on the StiemCleanah because he has been on an absolute tear since.

Here are Stiemsma’s stats from the nine games after the loss in NorCal:

    4 points, 3 blocks, 1 rebound at Denver (L)
    4 points, 4 blocks, 3 rebounds at Atlanta (W)
    6 points, 5 blocks, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals at Milwaukee (W)
    2 points, 2 blocks, 0 rebounds at Philadelphia (L)
    10 points, 0 blocks, 7 rebounds vs. Washington (W)
    3 points, 2 blocks, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals at Charlotte (W)
    1 point, 4 blocks, 4 rebounds vs. Utah (W)
    8 points, 2 blocks, 5 rebounds at Minnesota (W)
    6 points, 1 block, 4 rebounds, 2 steals vs. Miami (W)

I’m pretty sure the last time Jermaine O’Neal stuffed the stat sheet like that he was wearing Blue and Yellow. Perhaps even more impressive/encouraging is the spike in Stiemsma’s minutes. Surprisingly, Doc Rivers has consistently kept Kevin Garnett on the 5 on/5 off plan and Stiemsma is his primary (perhaps only) replacement. When the Celtics played Sacramento, Stiemsma was averaging a little more than 10 minutes a game. That number has risen considerably in this nine game stretch which has provided KG more rest and Stiemsma more opportunity to showcase what he can do; mostly block shots.

While Greg is primarily a shot blocker, he’s also shown all of us that he is a pretty deadly mid-range shooter with an extremely quick-release set shot. It’ll be interesting to see if he’ll ever be paired with Hollins going forward making him the primary stretch four.  While I want to see it out of pure morbid curiosity, I’m not entirely sure how much Ryan Hollins I want to see, making this pairing problematic.

Along with the shooting and the shot blocking, Stiemsma has also proven to be quite the cerebral player.  He’s picked up the Celtics complicated defensive rotations and recovers well for weakside blocks.  Nothing has shown how well Stiemsma’s been able to pick up the defensive rotations more than the charge he took on Chris Bosh on Sunday.  In the beginning of the season, that was a dunk.

Lately, the only complaint about Stiemsma has been his propensity to give up And-1s. Before the Heat game, Doc Rivers told the media that he laid into Greg for giving soft fouls and giving Minnesota some free points. I asked Greg about that after the Heat game, another one in which he gave up some And-1s:

Yeah, I’ve given up kind of a couple of And-1s lately and it bothers me as much as I think it does him. Not trying to hurt guys or anything like that but if I’m going to get a foul, I gotta try to get piece of the ball so I don’t let the And-1s go. I gotta kinda keep working on that and not pick up the cheap ones–a light foul–still, it’s a foul but you got to get a piece of the ball.

You can tell Greg is trying to avoid getting fined, and I don’t blame him. While it’s true he’s been giving up And-1s, I think a lot of it has to do with the “light fouls”. So much of those “light fouls” getting called has to do with familiarity. These officials just aren’t used to seeing Stiemsma at all, let alone be successful. Officials will always err on the side of blowing the whistle if a play is close and involves an undrafted free agent like Stiemsma. I asked him about that familiarity, and he wisely dismissed the notion:

It’s all part of the game, especially being a shot blocker I know I’m going to put myself in those situations to get fouls called even more. They call them. There’s nothing you can do. Just keep playing through it. That’s why you get six of them. I try to use up every one. As long as I’m not hurting the team getting too many fouls, I think that’s going to be my role.

Stiemsma’s saying all the right things and isn’t criticizing the officials because he can’t. Luckily, I can. Like a said above, Stiemsma’s only going to get the benefit of the doubt the more he plays. Right now, the officials aren’t going to give him an inch. Still, you have to admire the approach Greg takes. He understands the officials are going to call fouls and he’s going to continue to play hard, be aggressive, and soak up minutes.

And he’s going to have to if the Celtics hope to make any kind of meaningful playoff run. A lot of people will point to Mickael Pietrus being a bench x-factor going into the playoffs. They’re not entirely wrong, but the Celtics are incredibly thin up front and when the rotations shorten, Greg will be it off the bench. Luckily, he’s showing all of us now that he’s ready to be that big off the bench.

  • ripsonics

    1. those numbers dont surprise me.
    2. it is now official that the Stiemenator is an NBA player
    3. He is the ONLY other option to play the 5 in real game situations
    4. I think he has done a great job given the lack of confidence in him at the beginning of the year.

    Doc is getting a lot of credit right now for what this team has been able to do. Lets not forget that if AB and GS had not stepped up over this little stretch, we wouldn't be in the place we are today. Give them the credit first y'all because they are the ones out there busting their as*es to earn their spot.

    Doc has done a great job though – getting this team ready to play every night. This season has been quite the roller coaster.

    Go C's

  • ElRoz

    I hope they can use the next 14 games to work Ryan Hollins into the rotation a bit…to get him 5-6 minutes a game to ease off KG and Stiemsma.

    5-6 minutes a game – I think they can train him to be a contributor during that span.

  • W2.

    Great post.

    Just booked some tix to the Hawks game and am looking forward to seeing Stiemer's bigger role play out on stage against Zaza.

    I know there has been some comparisons of late of Stiemer to Perk and the latter's early days with the Celts. Obviously Steamer isn't the positional defender Perk is, but Perk seemed prone to turnovers and lacked the shot blocking ability of Stiemer. Plus, Stiemer is the nice price. I don't want to say it is a push, but afte watching Perk on national TV I didn't miss him in green at all. Helped further by Stiemer's performance in the follow-up game.

    Things are coming together. Can't help but look at the schedule and wonder if the bliss will continue or will prove to be fleeting. Either way I intend to enjoy the ride.

  • tbunny

    Oh yes the officials have been brutal on Stiensma. He could be better at fouling but they are calling him super tight.

    • Anthony

      I was going to make the same point. The ref pretty much call a foul on Stiemsma if he's anywhere in the vicinity. Like a reverse Kobe-rule.

      Also, I think with AB playing more, there isn't as many defensive rotations since he pretty stays with his man.

  • felix

    He has improved sooo much since the start of the season – he would seem to be lost sometimes and now he's right in it, playing with confidence! It was just pure fun to watch him against Miami – having steals, rebounding strong,scoring, etc. And that "fast"break, of course….great stuff!
    Right now, a lot of things seem to be going the green and white way…cannot wait to see them play Duncan tomorrow.

  • skeeds

    This kid blocks shots the right way. It's not always in your face, muscle-flexing, I'm-better-than-you blocks that are the most useful.
    For a smart and agile 7 footer, weakside help defense is a huge opportunity to block the shot, and you can see Stiemsma counting the opponent's steps when he commits to the layup, and leaving the ground at the exact same moment as he does. He's also smart enough to know that the best way to block a small, fast guy is letting him drive by you and smacking the shot from behind.

    Those 2 things are very, very basic, and yet there must be something like 10 guys that do them correctly. And most of those aren't even centers…

  • The Cardinal

    Brendan, Hollins and Steimsma were on the floor together for a few minutes in Hollins second game with the C's, which I think was against Charlotte. They were in a zone, but Hollins seems to be quick enough to actually guard most 4's in a man-to-man D.

  • CG12

    The Stiemer has been very solid. He gets no love from the refs, but he also needs to learn how to sell it better and avoid positions that get fouls called, regardless of whether a foul was actually committed. And he is learning. In particular, he often leaves his left arm kind of dangling out there, so that it gets into the offensive players mid-section, which is going to get a foul called most of the time.

    He also shows good instincts on offense, rolling to the hoop at the right time, making good passes, and finding spaces to get his jumper.

  • jpmist

    I think it was the Sacramento game where I recall Steamer finally get pissed off for the first time. Since then he's gotten better every game.

    What I can't help but wonder is, has anybody actually measured his wingspan?

    I'm convinced his arms are about two inches longer than most tall guys. He seems to tip the ball, block shots and get rebounds that surprise me in that it looks like the ball is just out of his reach.

    Along with AB, it's been a lot of fun lately watching these guys grow. . .

  • http://twitter.com/SpaceKappa @SpaceKappa

    I've loved watching Stiemsma and Bradley this season. It's odd to say when they're on a team with three Hall of Fame shoe-ins, but they're my two favorite players to watch. The injuries and depleted roster have almost been a blessing in disguise, because without them Doc would NEVER have leaned on his young players this much and they wouldn't have had a chance to grow and blossom like this.

    I hope they stay in green for many years, and I'm actually hoping I have the opportunity to buy a Stiemsma jersey sometime in the near future.

    • doc is a moron

      that's how starved we are as celtics fans. we love bradley and steisma because they look and play like athletic basketball players. KG and PP play off their wits and experience but combined with rondo they play excellent basketball. all that will be ruined tho by Doc being a jerkoff and putting avery back on the bench.

    • CG12

      It has been a long time since the Cs have had bench players develop into pleasant surprises. All of the complementary players we have had in recent years have been relatively well-known quantities. They just haven't had high-upside young players. But AB and Stiemer have shown that they belong.

  • http://www.translatorscafe.com/cafe/agency10936.htm convocco

    nah. the Celtics couldn't use a long defending forward that is athletic, flies around, the crowd loves, pushes teammates and fills the building with energy. nah.

  • http://www.ignitemybutt.com/ Ignite Stream Energy

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