BOSTON – The Boston Celtics don’t need to watch the film from Friday's 107-95 loss to Utah to know they need bring better energy when they return to action tonight at Memphis.
The status of one of the Celtics’ better high-energy players, Daniel Theis, was up in the air after Friday night's game after suffering a broken nose injury just 34 seconds into the loss to Utah. The team initially announced Theis would not travel to Memphis for Saturday night's game, but a last-minute decision to include him on the trip has left the door ajar for him possibly playing.
There are others who log more minutes off the bench than Theis, but it was evident on so many levels the impact of his absence had on Boston’s overall play.
Utah shot 48.2 percent from the field, and out-rebounded Boston by a decisive 55-31 margin.
No one is saying Theis' presence would have totally reversed those numbers. But there's a very good chance Theis would have helped to bring both of those numbers down a bit which would have given the Celtics a much better shot at escaping with a win.
“We miss a lot of defense and energy and rebounding with Theis being out,” Boston’s Terry Rozier told NBC Sports Boston. “But it’s the next-man up mentality.”
Celtics' guard/forward Jaylen Brown echoed similar sentiments about Theis.
“We’ve had that next-man-up mentality all year,” Brown said. “We want Theis to come back and have a speedy recovery. Obviously, it’s a need for somebody else to step up.”
Theis has appeared in 29 games this season with two starts. He is averaging 4.3 points and 3.8 rebounds in 12 minutes per game.
The numbers fail to show just how much the 25-year-old rookie’s presence has benefited the Celtics this season.
“I just want to come in, bring energy, defend, rebound, do whatever to help the team,” Theis recently told NBC Sports Boston. “Whatever to win, I want to do.”
It’s unclear when Theis will return to action for the Celtics, but he will in all likelihood get fitted for a mask akin to what Kyrie Irving wore recently.
But between now and then, the Celtics could find themselves looking for someone off the second unit to fill the void left by Theis.
“We got a lot of guys who can play,” Rozier said. “Everybody has to be ready to play. Everybody has to be ready to step in, and be ready to fill in for him.”