Porzingis plans to be ready for Game 1 of NBA Finals vs Mavericks

Porzingis plans to be ready for Game 1 of NBA Finals vs Mavericks

/ 12:14 PM June 05, 2024

Kristaps Porzingis Boston Celtics NBA Finals

Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (8) during Game 2 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Wednesday, April 24, 2024, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

BOSTON — Boston Celtics big man Kristaps Porzingis plans to be ready for Game 1 of the NBA Finals. His left calf is another issue.

“I don’t know. We’ll see,” the 7-footer said Tuesday. “I have a couple of more days. I’ve done a lot of work up until this point and I’ve done everything needed to get back into playing shape. … (Being available to play) is the plan right now. But, again, it’s a couple of more days, and I think that can make a difference. Every day gives me a bit more time to get even better.”

Porzingis hasn’t appeared in a game since sustaining a strained calf in Game 4 of Boston’s NBA first-round playoff series against Miami on April 29.

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He called the rehab process challenging, despite his team going 9-1 without him and dispatching of Cleveland and Indiana to earn a Finals pairing with the Dallas Mavericks, a team he played for from 2019-22.

“It’s been a long process, I’m not going to lie,” Porzingis said. “But I’ve tried to stay as engaged as I can and be around the team and do my work, and hang with the team.”

READ: NBA Finals: Celtics favored but money is rolling in on Mavericks

The Latvian big man has ramped up his participation level on the court this past week, going through light 5-on-5 workouts with the team. But it’s been limited, with no real scrimmaging.

“So, in that sense, it hasn’t been perfect, obviously,” he said. “But I’ve tried to build up as much as I can to this point from all aspects.”

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Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said Porzingis is “on pace” to be ready on Thursday and said he wasn’t worried about his long layoff.

“Obviously, you can’t simulate the intensity and speed of the game. It just comes with a little bit of reps,” Mazzulla said. “KP’s a great player. I think just because you’ve been out for month doesn’t mean you have to relearn how to play basketball. He’s been doing a lot of great things for his career, he’s done a lot of great things for us this season on both ends of the floor. … I expect him to pick up right where he left off. But, obviously, there will be a little bit of rust. Just not concerned because of the work he’s put in.”

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Asked if he was able to run without pain in his calf, Porzingis paused briefly, before saying, “Yes.”

READ: Porzingis on track for return as Celtics prepare for NBA Finals

“I have to feel confident. I don’t want to go out there and thinking about something,” he said. “Once I’m out there, it has to be full focus on playing my best basketball and trying to help this team win. … I just try to be the best I can be with the given circumstances.”

But he also said he’s confident that the training staff is secure that he is ready to return.

“I’ve done the things necessary to check the boxes. Of course, it’s hard to imitate the same intensity at practice,” he said. “But I have to be confident that it’ll be alright.”

Porzingis said he is looking forward to facing the Mavericks.

“I’m happy for everybody in Dallas. A lot of good relationships there, and I think they deserve to have the success they’ve had this season,” Porzingis said.

While in Dallas, Porzingis developed a good relationship with Mavericks star Luka Doncic. They just didn’t mesh as well on the court.

Porzingis declined to answer a question about why their pairing didn’t produce the success that Doncic has found alongside Kyrie Irving.

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“It didn’t work out,” Porzingis said. “I’m not even thinking about that right now. I’m focused on the job at hand. And we can talk about that later.”

TAGS: Boston Celtics, Kristaps Porzingis, NBA Finals

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