Kristaps Porzingis gets ‘better’ injury update ahead of Celtics vs. Cavs Game 1

Kristaps Porzingis gets ‘better’ injury update ahead of Celtics vs. Cavs Game 1

Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla provided a positive update on Kristaps Porzingis’ health.

Kristaps Porzingis with question marks around him

Whether or not Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis will play in the second round of the 2024 NBA Playoffs remains to be seen. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Latvian big man is working hard to return to the floor.

During Boston’s Game 4 win over the Miami Heat last Monday, Porzingis suffered a calf strain that forced him to miss the rest of the first-round series. Fortunately, the Celtics didn’t need to be at full strength to dispose an undermanned Heat team, as they prevailed in five games.

The C’s will now face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Game 1 tips off at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

Although Porzingis is out for Game 1, his injury timeline is largely up in the air. At practice on Monday afternoon, Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla told the media that he didn’t know all the particulars of Porzingis’ health, yet the first-year Celtic appeared to be making some progress, via Justin Turpin of WEEI.

“He seemed to be walking a little bit better,” Mazzulla stated. “The thing about KP is he puts the time in. So a guy like him—every single day he knows exactly what he has to do and he puts the work in to be ready, whether he’s playing or coming back from an injury. I just saw him walk a little bit better but, you know, I trust his work ethic. I know he’s doing everything he can to get back as fast as he can.”

When will Kristaps Porzingis return for the Celtics?

There are some differing opinions on when Kristaps Porzingis might return for the Green Team, yet it probably won’t be in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

While the Celtics were still matched up with the Heat, it was reported that Porzingis would likely be sidelined for the entire second round, per NBA insider Chris Haynes.

“He is likely out for next series as well. The hope is that he can make a return if the Celtics were to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.” Chris Haynes on a potential timeline for Kristaps Porzingis, who has a right calf strain. (via @NBAonTNT)

A soleus strain isn’t something that can be taken lightly, as Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo sustained a soleus injury in early April and didn’t play a single minute in the postseason. The banged-up Bucks were then eliminated by the Indiana Pacers in six games.

At the very least, Porzingis avoided a brutal Achilles tear against the Heat that would’ve ended his season. While Boston’s third-leading scorer might not take the court versus Cleveland, he’s doing his best to remain in high spirits.

“There’s no like specific date, obviously,” Porzingis said on Saturday about a potential return, per Celtics in-house writer Taylor Snow. “It’s still pretty early. I think it will be clearer once I start doing more stuff … But yeah, not super close yet. But expecting to recover at a historic rate.”

Kristaps Porzingis says there’s no specific target date for his return, but adds with a smile that he’s “expecting to recover at a historic rate.”

During the 2023-24 campaign, the Celtics went 2-1 against the Cavs. Porzingis played in every contest, averaging 21 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game. In comparison, he averaged 20.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks for the season.

Not having Porzingis is a tough blow for Boston, as the 7-foot-2 center is the team’s best rim protector and was relatively healthy prior to his early exit in Miami. Veteran center Al Horford will get the start instead, which could pair him up with some of Cleveland’s lengthy big men like Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley.

Incredibly, 11 of the last 12 meetings between the Celtics and Cavs have been decided by single digits. And the only game that wasn’t decided by a single-digit margin in that span was just a 10-point difference. Long story short, this series could be tight given the matchup history and Porzingis’ probable absence.

If it ever reached a Game 7, perhaps Porzingis would try and rush back for it. But, regardless of his status, Boston will prepare for the fourth-seeded Cavs with its short-handed, yet talented squad.

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