Kristaps Porzingis injury update: Celtics star pledges to return to lineup soon as NBA Finals approach

The Boston Celtics have been without star big man Kristaps Porzingis since Game 4 of their first-round series against the Miami Heat, but fortunately for the Eastern Conference champs, he appears confident that he will return to the fold soon. On Wednesday, Porzingis posted a tweet in his native Latvian that translated to “Thank you to everyone who supports and sympathizes throughout the season. I’ll be back in line soon. See you in the finals.” He closed that tweet by indicating that he also plans to play for the Latvian national team in this summer’s Olympic qualifying tournament.

Porzingis, who has dealt with injury issues throughout his career, played in 57 games for the Celtics this season. He suffered a strained soleus — one of the two calf muscles — during that first-round win over the Heat. He has been sidelined ever since, with reports at the time indicating a possible return during the Eastern Conference finals that never materialized. The NBA Finals will begin on Thursday, June 6 regardless of who wins the Western Conference, so Porzingis still has more than a week to recover.

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said Thursday that he did not know of any setbacks in Porzingis’ recovery: “He’s progressing well and working really hard to get back.”

The Dallas Mavericks currently lead the Western Conference Finals 3-1 over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Should they complete that series victory, Porzingis would be playing against his former team in the NBA Finals, as he played for Dallas between 2019-2022. The Mavericks also have a star who would be looking for revenge on a former team in the Finals, as Kyrie Irving played for the Celtics from 2017-2019.

The Celtics managed to make it through the Eastern Conference mostly unscathed despite Porzingis’ absence. They went 12-2 against the Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers, though all three teams were missing key players due to injuries during at least part of those matchups. The Mavericks or Timberwolves would pose a much greater threat. Having Porzingis back for either opponent would be critical, as his ability to score at all three levels and protect the basket would both be necessary against such talented teams.

The Celtics didn’t acquire Porzingis for the regular season or even the early rounds of the playoffs. They have largely taken care of business on those fronts over the past several seasons. They traded for him knowing they’d need him at this exact point on the schedule. Porzingis is a Celtic for the Finals, and fortunately, it looks like he’ll be back in time to participate as Boston seeks its 18th championship banner.

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