The Boston Celtics have been the best team in the NBA through their first six games to start the 2023-24 season.

Boston’s offense has been top-tier, the defensive identity is re-establishing and most importantly, opponents are having a tough time keeping up with the depth. Everything’s leaning in favor of the Celtics early on, however, that’s no reason to fall too cozy, especially with 76 games left to play.

With everything fine and dandy in Boston, former friend Daniel Theis is rummaging for minutes on the floor with Indiana.

The Pacers, so far, have preferred distributing minutes to younger front court options like Obi Toppin and Jalen Smith along with go-to rim protector Myles Turner, leaving Theis in the backseat.

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Limiting Theis to a nonexistent role after Indiana’s first seven games, as expected, is already taking a toll on the 31-year-old. It’s especially frustrating after Theis balled out during FIBA play, delivering an impressive 21-point performance against the United States amid Germany’s run to a tournament title this past summer.

“Obviously after a great summer, I’m not happy with the situation I’m in right now,” Theis told Brian Robb of MassLive before Indiana’s recent trip to Boston. “I want to play and take all the good stuff from the summer into the season but it’s a long season. We are going to see what’s going on and what’s happening.”

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Before Boston packaged the 6-foot-9 Theis in its trade for Malcolm Brogdon in 2022, the Celtics utilized Theis primarily for defensive purposes and length off the bench. He’d be tasked with going toe-to-toe with some of Boston’s biggest opposing threats like Joel Embiid, doing the dirty work in the paint.

That can’t be underappreciated, therefore, the question arises, even three-plus months ahead of the Feb. 9 NBA trade deadline: is Theis due for a third run with the Celtics?

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Considering Theis has just $9.1 million remaining plus a $9.5 million club option that the Pacers likely won’t pick up, the asking price can’t be high. Plus there’s nothing wrong with enhancing an already very questionable Celtics reserve unit.

So it’s not out of the question and definitely worth keeping an eye on.

“I’m open (to re-joining the Celtics),” Theis added, per Robb. “… They have a great team. The way they play offense, shooting the ball, shooting the 3. Defensively, adding Jrue Holiday, tough team to beat all season long. Hopefully, everyone stays healthy.”

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For the better part of Boston’s optimistic run under Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the scoring component has been well-established. It’s there on a night-to-night basis and only became more reliable with the offseason additions of Kristaps Porzingis and Holiday.

But as Boston learned the hard way last season, without an established defensive identity, winning in the playoffs won’t be easy — regardless of hype.

Theis can offer what the Celtics could use; an unselfish, off-the-bench workhorse that isn’t afraid to get tough in the front court. Boston’s current roster, unlike in previous seasons Theis played for the Celtics, is polished perfectly for Theis to slide in. Not expected to battle the glass with Giannis Antetokounmpo, but instead help preserve leads off the bench.

There isn’t much required for Theis if a third go-around in Boston were to take place, and with the financials and Indiana’s evident refusal to play Theis in an unfavorable situation, the stars might be aligning for Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens to pull the trigger — again.

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Featured image via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images