OAKLAND, Calif. As if the Boston Celtics needed any more setbacks in their backcourt, the absence of Rajon Rondo might be the biggest to date.
The NBA's assists leader will misstonight's game against Golden State with a right quadhip injury that he suffered in Boston's 106-77 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said the C's knew prior to the shoot-around Saturday morning that Rondo wouldn't be available.
"So we at least were able to work on some stuff with all the guards we have," quipped Rivers. "All two of them."
Joining Jason Terry in the starting backcourt will be Courtney Lee.
Not that Rivers had much of a choice.
Leandro Barbosa who has missed the last three games while attending to a personal matter, will not arrive in time to play intonight's game. But the C's are optimistic that he will be available on Sunday at Sacramento.
And Avery Bradley is not with the C's on this trip. He remains on track to make his season debuton Jan. 2.
Boston comes into tonight's game having lost two of the three previous games this season with Rondo out.
Lee, who will likely begin the game as the C's point guard, is no stranger to manning the point position.
Although the Celtics signed him in the offseason primarily as a shooting guard who could play some at small forward, injuries and unexpected setbacks have forced him to revert back to his point guard-playing days in Orlando and most recently, Houston.
"My mindset definitely changes without Rondo," Lee toldCSNNE.com. "I know my role changes. I'll be ready."
Not having Rondo available does indeed have a domino effect on the entire Celtics roster, forcing some players to be on the floor for extended minutes.
But to do that and have essentially no guards on the bench with Lee and Jason Terry starting, will make for a challenging night for the Celtics particularly when it comes to running their offense.
"Him (Lee) and JT (Terry) and Paul (Pierce) will be our point guard at times," Rivers said. "Whoever is getting pressured, the other guy will bring the ball up the floor."
Boston's defense won't change, but the approach by his players - the guards especially - just might.
"They (Golden State) have really good guards," Rivers said. "The likelihood of none of our guards getting in foul trouble with the way they play ... that's going to be hard. If someone gets in foul trouble, they play with fouls. It's not like we can sub them out and save them."
That does not bode well for a Celtics team that even when they had decent depth, at times didn't play with the kind collective aggression - Kevin Garnett calls it playing "firm" - that's needed in order to be successful.
"We haven't talked about it," Rivers said. "That may be human nature. If that is, I'll call a time-out and tell them to stop it. That's all you can do.
Rivers added, "you gotta play your way."