Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Joe Mazzulla on Kristaps Porzingis' calf injury: 'Better than we thought'

The Celtics will be without Kristaps Porzingis when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Tuesday night.

The veteran big man continues to nurse a soleus strain in his right calf, which he sustained in Game 4 of the C's five-game series victory over the Miami Heat last week and while there's no definitive timetable for Porzingis' return, head coach Joe Mazzulla gave an update and confirmed that the injury is not as bad as originally thought.
"Yeah, it's definitely better than we thought," Mazzulla said in his interview with Zolak & Bertrand of 98.5 The Sports Hub. "And the one thing about KP is I don't know what his timetable is, but I know his mentality. He really pushes himself to get back as quickly as he can. And he does a great job working to take care of himself. He’s walking a little bit better. Every day, he's in there, doing whatever it takes to try and get back as fast as he can. So, I appreciate that."
Without Porzingis, the Celtics are missing a huge part on what they do on both ends of the floor as they look to make a championship run as he averaged 20.1 points on 51.6% shooting, 7.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 57 regular-season starts. Boston, who finished a league-best 64-18 on the year, were 21-4 in games without Porzingis.

Al Horford steps back into the starting lineup after playing a role off the bench all season following the arrival of Porzingis, as both would sit regularly on opposite ends of back-to-backs. With the rest of Horford throughout the regular season, Mazzulla believes it allows the soon to be 38-year-old to resume his duties as a starter with ease and confidence.
"I think that's what we've done throughout the year by Al not playing in back-to-backs and limiting his minutes throughout the season. I think Al does a tremendous job of taking care of himself. And he's ready for situations like this. He's ready for the playoffs. I think one of the best things about someone like Al is that he loves being relied on."
Porzinigis, who was seen with a walking boot following his injury in Game 4, emphasized that there is no return date but it'll be a week-to-week assessment when it comes to his rehab.
"There's no specific date obviously. It's still pretty early," Porzinigis said in his post-practice presser Saturday afternoon. "I think it will be clear once I start doing more stuff. … Not super close yet. But I'm expecting to recover at a historic rate."
Despite the encouraging update, it was NBA insider Chris Haynes that first reported ahead of the Celtics Game 5 series clinching win over the Heat that Porzingis would likely miss the entire second round and expected to return in the conference finals should Boston were to advance.

In the meantime, the Celtics tip-off against the Cavs in Game 1 tonight at TD Garden, with a 7:00 pm ET tip-off on TNT.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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