NBA Playoffs

What to expect from Kristaps Porzingis in Celtics-Mavericks Game 5: Report

The Celtics big man hasn't played since Game 2 in Boston.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Can Kristaps Porzingis help the Boston Celtics celebrate Banner 18 on their own floor Monday night?

That's a key question entering Game 5 of the 2024 NBA Finals at TD Garden against the Dallas Mavericks. The Celtics big man, who suffered a "rare" leg injury in the third quarter of Game 2 and missed Game 3 in Dallas, was made available for Game 4 but only on an "if necessary" basis, according to head coach Joe Mazzulla.

That need never arose, as the Celtics trailed the Mavs by 26 points at halftime and waved the white flag late in the third quarter of a 122-84 blowout loss.

So, what are the odds we see Porzingis in Game 5 after back-to-back DNPs? According The Athletic's Shams Charania, the Celtics likely will take a similar approach in making their 7-foot-3 big man available but only using him as needed.

"I would expect the same thing here in Game 5 as far as him dressing and being available," Charania said Monday on FanDuel TV's "Run It Back" show. "You saw some of his teammates come out and say how much he wants to play ... but he's just not there from a physical perspective.

"... The expectation around the Celtics -- at least, he’s going to play a similar role that he did in Game 4."

Interestingly, Charania noted Boston's plan for Game 4 was to only use Porzingis in very limited, specific situations, such as defending the inbounder, guarding against a lob on a set play just before the end of the quarter or subbing in to shoot a free throw. So, even if Porzingis is active for Game 5, it doesn't sound like he'll be logging 20 minutes and making a significant impact on both ends.

"When we go through our practice, he's doing some stuff, but you can still tell he's very uncomfortable," Celtics big man Xavier Tillman Sr. said of Porzingis on Sunday, via John Zannis of CLNS Media. "So, we don't want to put him in any situation that could really, really hurt him."

Even with the Celtics one win away from a championship, Porzingis' long-term health should be taken into consideration. Boston won Game 3 without him and is 10-2 this postseason in games he's missed. While he's undoubtedly a game-changer on both ends when healthy, it's clear he's not at full strength and would be limited if he plays in Game 5.

Porzingis could give the TD Garden crowd a massive jolt if enters Game 5, so perhaps Mazzulla can use him in a very brief stint near the end of a quarter to maximize Boston's homecourt advantage. Outside that scenario, however, the burden likely will fall on veteran Al Horford and Tillman to hold it down in the frontcourt Monday night.

Tip-off is set for 8:30 p.m. ET, with Celtics Pregame Live beginning at 7 p.m.

Contact Us