Terry Rozier bears a more dissatisfied look now, appearing more furrowed than the gleeful Boston Celtics point guard who was at his best when sticking it to Eric Bledsoe of the Milwaukee Bucks in last year’s playoffs. Rozier knew his role would change once Kyrie Irving came back and never has questioned the pecking order. But Rozier often doesn’t look like he’s having fun.

He laughed, a little cynically, at the suggestion.

“Lots of people think that,” he said. “It’s not about me. I’ll be all right.”

But Rozier is alert to the criticism he’s not playing well off the bench, that he’s forcing shots during his shorter rotations on the floor and needs a starting job to find the proper balance in his game.

Paul Pierce used to boast he didn’t read newspapers and Rozier found that funny. Blissful ignorance isn’t possible for someone as active on social media as Rozier.

But he cut off the chuckle with a return to the assertion he’ll be all right. He averaged 36.6 minutes in the 2018 playoffs and is down to 23.1 this season. Last postseason he scored at a 16.5 per game clip, and is now at 8.8. Assists are down from 5.7 to 2.8.

Rozier tells himself that backup point guards are content with this kind of reduction. And though he’s trying to accept the change, it’s with the conflicting assertion he’s not a backup point guard. Considering Irving’s stated intention to sign a new max deal with the Celtics next summer, Rozier’s self-belief alone may dictate a move.

“I don’t want to make it about me,” he began. “The simplest way to put it is you have a lot of great backup point guards in the league because they’re backups. I don’t feel that way, so I’m still trying to adjust and learn it a little bit. Still trying to be effective for my teammates and put them in a good position, but also put myself in a good position.

“There’s a lot of backups who do good because they’re backups. I’m not,” said Rozier. “Just want to find that balance and I will, with patience. My teammates and my coaches do a good job of putting me in the right spots. I just have to let it come to me.”

Teammates feel for Rozier and attempt to talk him through the problem.

“I talk to him on the court, off the court, just be you, don’t think about nothing else,” said Marcus Smart. “Just play. Yeah, you’ve got a short leash and a short time frame, but when you’re in there give it everything you’ve got.”

Rozier got a taste of his old playoff ration over the last two games, which Irving missed due to an eye injury, and responded with 16 points, five assists and five steals against Minnesota, followed by eight points, seven assists and five rebounds during Friday night’s win over Dallas.

Alas, Irving could return as early as Monday night’s game against Brooklyn. Smart understands the conflict.

“(Rozier) has so much more he wants to give, and it’s hard because we have a lot of guys that are very talented, especially in that starting five,” said Smart. “He’s still trying to figure out how to be the Terry he was last year, and balancing out trying to make the right play, and it’s hard. It’s hard. There’s a lot mentally that goes into it.

“But he’s going to be all right. He’s figuring it out, day by day. He’s keeping a positive attitude, he’s seen a couple of shots fall, and he keeps working. Down the stretch he’s going to come up real big for us and give us what we need.”

That is Rozier’s hope now, that last year’s Terry isn’t far off. Asked if this has been one of the most challenging times of his career, Rozier nodded.

“I’m going to make sure it works but it don’t matter,” he said. “Just taking it day by day, honestly, trying to go out there and have as much fun as I can, and at the same time make sure it’s about the name on the front and not the name on the back. Obviously just let things fall into place. We have a long season – I had to think that things didn’t start falling into place last year until the new year, 2018. You have to take your time, let the opportunity come and have fun.”

In the meantime, Smart wants Rozier to remember why he’s here.

“He’s a professional just like everybody else, and that’s why he’s on the highest stage there is playing in the NBA,” said Smart. “He’s going to figure it out. It is tough, but he keeps working. Eventually he’s going to get his time.”