We’ve arrived at the Celtics’ final regular season game, Greg Stiemsma has become a fixture in Boston’s rotation, he’s a serious obstacle to any opponent trying to score in the paint, and his bothersome feet are a concern, at least if they hinder him in the playoffs.
Don’t fret. Boston’s primary shot-blocker is feeling healthy, or at least relatively so.
“I could have played tonight, but I was taking advantage of a little opportunity to get some rest,” Stiemsma said to CSNNE, also noting that he hasn’t decided whether he’ll play Thursday against the Milwaukee Bucks.
The center has been battling plantar fasciitis in his left foot for months and also a bone bruise in his right foot. Neither injury is likely to fully heal at any point prior to the conclusion of this season, but rest is critical as Stiemsma tries to reduce at least some of the pain.
Said Doc Rivers before last night’s game, “The only guy we’re sitting out that probably could play but needs to sit out is Stiemsma. He needs to sit out with his foot. He’s feeling as well as he’s felt all year, so we’re just going to take advantage of that.”
When the season began and I started to gather information about Stiemsma, Boston’s potential 15th man at the time, I recall looking at the semi-mohawk hair-do he rocked during his D-League profile picture (the pic has since been upgraded to him dribbling a basketball while wearing a Celtics jersey — progress). The picture was what stood out most to me. I also recognized Stiemsma’s skills as a shot-blocker, his impressive free throw percentage (which told the story of an outside touch he rarely showed at other levels), and a YouTube clip in which he repeatedly swallowed Blake Griffin shot attempts. But mostly, I saw that goofy semi-mohawk, and I worried for hours that Boston’s only natural backup center played his professional hoops in Turkey last season and spent his free time planning odd haircuts. What would happen when Jermaine O’Neal inevitably got injured, I fretted?
Well, duh. The Celtics got better and Stiemsma quickly emerged as Boston’s first legitimate, reliable backup center since P.J. Brown*. Obviously, that was going to happen. I’m not sure why I ever doubted Boston’s 27-year old rookie who had never played a single NBA game before this season and averaged a career-high 3.5 points as a senior at Wisconsin.
*Sorry, Glen Davis, but you don’t count. A) You weren’t reliable and B) I just can’t bring myself to consider an undersized power forward a center, no matter how many times he plays the position.