Celtics

Celtics

And to think, one of the concerns many fans had about the Boston Celtics heading into this season was that they had too many guards.

With the NBA season less than two weeks old, now the concern has to be whether they have enough.

The Celtics host the Indiana Pacers tonight, but there’s a chance they will have to face them without their regular backcourt starters.

There’s never a good time to be without any starter, but this particular game is especially bad.

For starters, the Celtics (3-3) lost at Indiana last week so there is indeed a sense of urgency on Boston’s part to even the head-to-head series up.

And the Pacers are led by Paul George who is playing like the top-10 talent he was prior to suffering a right leg injury suffered when playing with Team USA in 2014.

Throw high-scoring Monta Ellis into the mix and the Celtics – even with Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart – would have their hands full defensively.

Smart has missed the last three games with a left big toe injury, and said earlier this week that he anticipated being back in the lineup by the end of the week – that’s Friday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks.

In Tuesday’s 99-83 win at Milwaukee, Bradley suffered a lower left leg injury in the first half and was unable to return in the second.

Following the win over the Bucks, head coach Brad Stevens did not have an update on Bradley’s status which at best right now, is questionable.

So that leaves the Celtics to most likely turn to Isaiah Thomas who has started in place of Smart, and Evan Turner a likely fill-in for Bradley.

Turner and Thomas have played a total of 87 minutes out of a possible 288 this season, or 30.2 percent of the time which is the eighth-highest percentage among two-man lineups on the Celtics roster.

That familiarity has been part of the success Boston’s second unit has enjoyed this season.

They come into tonight’s game averaging a league-best 51.0 points per game, while giving up just 29.3 which is the fourth-fewest bench points allowed this season.

But as Thomas and Turner potentially shift into more prominent roles due to injuries, it also means that some of Boston’s less experienced players will get an opportunity to prove their worth sooner rather than later.

Both of Boston’s rookie guards, Terry Rozier and R.J. Hunter, have shown flashes of being really solid rotation-type players.

But Hunter, selected with the 28th overall pick in last June’s NBA draft, has probably been the more impressive of the two.

In Tuesday’s game against Milwaukee, Hunter had career highs in points (seven) and rebounds (seven) in helping Boston (3-3) win its second straight while snapping Milwaukee’s four-game winning streak.

Although he’s averaging just 3.0 points and 2.7 rebounds while appearing in three games this season, Hunter has been a surprisingly solid defender which is evident by a defensive rating of 88.8.

Rozier is averaging 1.3 points in 7.1 minutes while appearing in four games.

Like Hunter, Rozier’s minutes have been limited thus far this season. But with injuries rising, so do opportunities to play more.

“The main thing for me is to just stay ready when my number is called,” Hunter told CSNNE.com recently. “With this team and the way things go in the NBA in general, you never know when your opportunity is going to come. When it does, I’ll be ready.”