Thursday, December 7, 2023

Kristaps Porzingis expected to make return against Knicks Friday night

The Celtics didn't make it to Las Vegas after being eliminated in the quarterfinals of the NBA In-Season Tournament by the Indiana Pacers earlier this week.

However, there might be something else to look forward to as Kristaps Porzingis -- who's missed the last four games with a left calf injury -- could make his return to the C's lineup when they host the New York Knicks Friday night at TD Garden.

The veteran big man did travel with the team to Indy, in hopes of Boston advancing to the semifinals of the league's inaugural tournament. Instead, Porzingis had to watch from the sidelines in street clothes as the Celtics suffered a 122-112 loss to a young and hungry Pacers team.
"Everybody was upset and mad at ourselves for not getting it done. Me especially. Not being able to help out there, it hurt, especially knowing the vision we had," Porzingis said at shootaround Wednesday. "This is how it goes and that's it. We'll be back."
Porzingis, initially hurt his calf nearly two weeks ago while the Celtics were playing against the Orlando Magic, but participated in a full practice Wednesday -- including 5-on-5 full court scrimmage -- wearing a black sleeve on his left leg.
"K.P. went up and down a little bit today," coach Joe Mazzulla told reporters. "We'll see how he responds tomorrow, but he's progressed really well and we expect him to be ready ... he looked good out there today."
While the Celtics have officially listed Porzingis as probable for Friday's tilt, it didn't take away from a the "good session" he felt he had with his teammates at the Red Auerbach Center.
"The calf is good," Porzingis replied when asked about his injury. "I got a good session in up and down. I went through a full practice and [I'm] feeling good.
When asked about thoughts of possibly playing in his first game back, Porzingis seemed confident that he would suit up, despite having not yet spoken with Celtics trainers and or doctors.
"I haven't talked with the medical staff yet, but I think after what I did today I should be good to go," Porzingis responded to a question of if he felt ready to play.
The Celtics are 3-2 (including the loss in Orlando) without Porzingis in the lineup and that record bumps up to 10-1 when the team is fully healthy. So what did the 7-foot-3 center learn while he watched his teammates from afar?
"We have a lot of room to grow," Porzingis said. "That's one thing I see for sure. I think we all know that and that's why we're here working and getting better. We have really good moments, and then we have some moments that we can clean up and really lock in, and we'll get there. It's early in the season, 20 games in ... consistency throughout the game, we're getting better at that. Of course, like any team, there are some slip-ups throughout the game ... this is not just us, it's always like that, but you strive for perfection, for a perfect game, everybody's locked in for 48 minutes, no turnovers, make every shot ... because of the talent that we have, we're already playing good basketball, but we believe we can achieve many levels [higher]."
In his first season with the Celtics, Porzingis is averaging 18.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game (15) while shooting 54.7% from the field -- as a starter in all games he's played in so far.

The Celtics (15-5) and Knicks (12-8) -- also eliminated from the semifinals of In-Season Tournament play -- tip-off Friday night at 7:30 pm ET on NBA TV

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of The Boston Globe

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