Celtics still playing waiting game with Kristaps Porzingis’ availability


“He’s doing some stuff but you can tell he’s very uncomfortable.”

Celtics still playing waiting game with Kristaps Porzingis’ availability
Kristaps Porzingis has missed the last two games of the NBA Finals due to an ankle injury. (Danielle Parhizkaran/Globe Staff)

The return of Kristaps Porzingis to the parquet floor would further bolster a Celtics team looking to clinch its 18th championship on Monday night. 

But it remains to be seen if the 7-foot-2 center stands as a viable option for Boston’s latest clinching contest in Game 5. 

After missing Game 3 due to a “rare” ankle injury suffered on June 9, Porzingis was deemed “available” for Game 4 against Dallas on Friday night, but only under “specific instances”, according to Joe Mazzulla.

With Boston getting blown out early in Game 4, Mazzulla and the Celtics did not call on Porzingis for minutes — giving the 28-year-old big man even more time to rest and recuperate. 

But even with more time afforded to him, it’s still unclear if Porzingis will factor heavily into Boston’s gameplan on Monday night. 

“I haven’t talked to him yet,” Mazzulla said of Porzingis’ status going into Game 5. “Going to talk about that before we start [practice]. So I’m not sure kind of where he’s at. But he’s trying and doing everything he can to try to put himself in position to be out there. I know that for sure.

Porzingis was spotted during the media portion of Boston’s practice on Sunday at TD Garden, getting a few shots off but not showing much of anything in terms of his mobility and any potential limitations that come with that ankle ailment. 

Porzingis, who missed over a month of playoff action earlier this spring after suffering a calf sprain during Game 4 of Boston’s first-round matchup against the Heat, did not speak with the media on Sunday. 

This ankle injury — termed a “torn medial retinaculum allowing dislocation of the posterior tibialis tendon” — has forced him to now miss two straight games, with Mazzulla acknowledging before Game 4 that he’s “not quite there”, even if he was deemed available for that game. 

“It’s a rare leg injury, so if he’s in excruciating pain and can’t be himself it might not be worth it,” Xavier Tillman said of Porzingis, adding: “When we go through our practices, he’s doing some stuff but you can tell he’s very uncomfortable.”

Boston might be 11-2 this postseason without Porzingis in the lineup, but the Celtics’ chances of securing Banner 18 will receive a massive lift if their top center can log 20+ minutes on Monday.

Not only does Porzingis give Boston an elite defensive presence around the rim, but his ability to both score in the post and from 3-point range creates a major mismatch for the Mavericks. In Games 1 and 2, Porzingis came off the bench for Boston, but averaged 16 points per contest while shooting 60 percent from the field. 

“Miss him a lot. Top-three player on our team,” Jrue Holiday said of Porzingis. “Scoring, defense at the rim, blocking shots, comedic relief. It’s been great playing with him, and we wish he was out there with us.”

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