NBA Finals: Boston Celtics’ Kristaps Porzingis unsure he is 100% but plans to play

Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis said Tuesday that “the plan” is for him to be available in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, but he was still wary of how his leg will respond.

“That is the plan right now,” Porzingis said of playing Thursday. “Again, it’s a couple more days, and I think that could make a difference. Every day gives me a bit more time to get even better.”

Porzingis has been out since suffering a right calf strain five weeks ago, in Game 4 of the Celtics’ first-round playoff series against the Miami Heat. He returned to at least some portion of practice Friday and participated fully in a light session Saturday.

His presence in the series was going to be a significant storyline given he spent three years with the Mavericks before being traded in February 2022, but it has only been magnified because of his ongoing recovery from his calf strain. And, on two occasions — when he was asked Tuesday if he is 100 percent right now, and again later when asked if he is pain free — he took several long seconds before hesitantly answering.

“Good question,” he said with a wry smile to the question of whether he’s currently 100 percent. “I don’t know. We’ll see. Done a lot of work up until this point. Done everything needed to get back into playing shape. We’ll see.”

Later, when asked if he’s running pain-free, he sat for a while, seemingly deciding what to say, before eventually just saying, “Yes.”

Boston acquired Porzingis in a three-team trade a year ago, in part, to give the Celtics a different dimension when they got to the latter stages of the playoffs after they’d repeatedly fallen short of raising an 18th championship banner to the TD Garden rafters. And while he has missed most of the playoffs with an injury, he was a huge part of the team’s success in the regular season, averaging 20.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game while shooting a career-best 51.6 percent from the field.

Porzingis said he’s been participating in practices with the team, but that it’s difficult to simulate game speed in those types of settings, particularly with limited scrimmaging time as he’s recovered from an injury that’s kept him out of Boston’s last 10 games in these playoffs.

“I think the medical staff would not put me out there if they wouldn’t be confident that I’d be good,” Porzingis said. “I’ve done the things necessary to check the boxes, and that’s it.

“Of course, it’s hard to imitate the same intensity in practice. That intensity is going to be a completely different level, but I have to be confident it will be all right.”


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