Sunday, May 19, 2024

Joe Mazzulla says Kristaps Porzingis is in a 'great place,' but didn't share target return date

The Celtics still haven't provided much on a possible return date for Kristaps Porzingis, who has missed the last six games with a soleus strain in his right calf.

While the latest update on the seven-footer reportedly going to sit out at least the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals, according to NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, Boston now knows who their opponent will be -- as the Indiana Pacers won a Game 7 on the road against the shorthanded New York Knicks Sunday.

However, C's coach Joe Mazzulla doesn't seem worried when asked about his starting center's rehab after the team's shoot-around earlier today prior to the Pacers advancing.
"A great place," Mazzulla said on Porzingis during his post-practice presser. "He's working hard every single day to make as fast of a recovery as he can. He's there for everything. You can't underestimate how hard he works trying to come back in a timely fashion."
Of course in a follow up question, Mazzulla was asked if Porzingis was making progress towards a return onto the court, to which the coach replied "I have no idea." He did seem hopeful that his veteran big man will play at some point in the East Finals.
"I feel like I'm an optimistic person in general," Mazzulla responded.
Porzingis, who has been out since April 29 with the calf injury sustained in Game 4 against the Miami Heat, was seen working out on a stationary bike Sunday as his teammates ran practice. Late in the second-round against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Porzingis took part in individual on-court activities -- including practicing offensive and defensive situations.

The Celtics are 5-1 in Porzingis' absence, winning all but one game by double-digits and Al Horford has filled in nicely as a starter -- coming off a 22-point, 15-rebound, five-assist and three-block performance in the team's Game 5 series clincher at home over the Cavs.

Despite Porzingis' 12.3 points and five rebounds per game numbers in the playoffs so far, he finished with averages of 20.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game during the regular season and the Celtics would gladly welcome him back as soon as possible to continue their run towards a potential championship.

Game 1 of the East Finals is scheduled for Tuesday night at TD Garden in an 8:00 pm ET tip-off on ESPN.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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