Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Kristaps Porzingis injury update: Celtics big man confirms he will play in Game 1 of NBA Finals vs. Mavericks

Boston Celtics big man Kristaps Porzingis told reporters on Wednesday that he will play in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Porzingis, who has missed Boston’s past 10 games due to a calf strain and hasn’t played since April 29, has completed multiple scrimmages in recent days. He had initially been expected to return during the Eastern Conference finals, but with Boston sweeping the Indiana Pacers, Porzingis had extra time to recover in the long break before the Finals against the Dallas Mavericks.

“I’m feeling good,” Porzingis said. “It was a long road to get to this point for me. I’m feeling good, I’m looking forward to today’s practice, moving around a little bit more and then being ready to go tomorrow. It burns inside of me not being able to be out there. Tomorrow I’ll finally get the chance and I’m excited for it.”

The Celtics big man also took the court with his teammates on Wednesday.

Now Porzingis is set to make it back in time for a Finals series that will hold special significance for him. The Celtics will be facing his former team in a series that holds revenge elements on both sides. While Porzingis will be facing Dallas, former Celtics star Kyrie Irving will be facing the Boston after leaving as a free agent in 2019 and infamously stomping on Lucky the Leprechaun, the team’s logo, after beating the Celtics in a 2021 series as a member of the Brooklyn Nets.

Boston survived Porzingis’ absence in the first three rounds, but all three teams the Celtics faced in the Eastern Conference were dealing with injuries of their own. The Miami Heat didn’t have Jimmy Butler. The Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t have Jarrett Allen, and lost Donovan Mitchell midway through the series. The Indiana Pacers lost Tyrese Haliburton midway through the Eastern Conference finals.

Dallas will be a far less forgiving opponent. Their new starting lineup, which formed at the trade deadline, went 15-1 in the regular season and is now 12-5 in the postseason. Porzingis will provide a critical layer of rim-protection against Irving and Luka Doncic, a backcourt that is steadily earning acclaim as one of the great offensive duos in NBA history, while also providing scoring on all three levels offensively. If Dallas guards him with their centers, the Celtics will space Porzingis deep behind the 3-point arc to draw that big man away from the rim. If Dallas puts a smaller player on him, he can post that player up and shoot mid-range jumpers over him.

“It’s tough to say, I haven’t played,” Porzingis said when asked if he feels like himself heading into Thursday. “I haven’t played for a while. Tomorrow will be my first real minutes in a while, so I did as much as I could to prepare for this moment, but there’s nothing like game minutes and game experience that I’m gonna get tomorrow. It will be tough to jump into the Finals like this, but I did everything I could to prepare for it and we’ll see tomorrow night.”

The playoffs thus far have featured injuries all across the board. Fortunately, though, it appears both teams will have everyone available for Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

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