Kristaps Porzingis plans to play NBA Finals despite not feeling 100% healthy

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Kristaps Porzingis Boston Celtics

One of the biggest mysteries surrounding the upcoming NBA Finals is the presence of Boston center Kristaps Porzingis, as he has been out since suffering a right calf strain five weeks ago in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series against the Heat. Now, the team hopes he’s available to play in Game 1 against Dallas, starting this Thursday.

According to the Latvian big man, he said this Tuesday that “the plan” is for him to be ready for their first matchup in Massachusetts, but he admitted that he’s still unsure of how his leg will respond in such an intense clash.

“That is the plan right now,” the 28-year-old said of Game 1. “Again, it’s a couple more days, and I think that could make a difference. Every day gives me a bit more time to get even better.”

In his absence, Al Horford has proved his worth in the starting lineup, but the Celtics hope to have as much depth as possible for this Finals series. The European returned to some portion of last Friday’s practice, but didn’t participated completely until the next morning’s light session.

The storyline behind his competing in this matchup is significant, especially considering that he spent three years playing for Dallas before being traded out in 2022. Now his ongoing recovery has only been magnified by the press, wondering if he’ll be 100% fit.

“Good question,” he replied with a smile when consulted if he feels completely healed. “I don’t know. We’ll see. Done a lot of work up until this point. Done everything needed to get back into playing shape. We’ll see.”

His uncertainty was made very clear when he was consulted if he was running without any pain, as he really seemed conflicted by what he should answer. After seconds of doubt, he simply said, “Yes.”

Porzingis hopes his leg will hold up once he gets used to the intensity of the NBA Finals, but seemed reluctant to says he has no pain

If one thing is clear after Kristaps’ latest interview, is that he was reluctant to say he was totally healed for the games to come. Instead, the Latvian said that he has the blessing of Boston’s medical staff to put himself out there again, but he only hopes his leg will hold up once he’s put in a situation of high-intensity basketball.

“I think the medical staff would not put me out there if they wouldn’t be confident that I’d be good,” Porzingis shared. “I’ve done the things necessary to check the boxes, and that’s it. Of course, it’s hard to imitate the same intensity in practice. That intensity is going to be a completely different level, but I have to be confident it will be all right.”

His coach, on the other hand, said that the press was pushing the narrative that he has been out for so long that he’s fallen out of rhythm and won’t be ready for what lies ahead. Mazzulla insisted that he’s a professional athlete and is used to this.

“He’s been playing basketball for like 30 years,” Joe Mazzulla assured. “He’s been playing intense situations his whole life, so I don’t think that will be much of an issue. I think everything was just dependent upon — obviously you can’t simulate the speed and the intensity of the game, which I think just comes with a little bit of reps.”