Sports

Celtics' Porzingis has rare tendon issue in lower left leg, is questionable for Game 3 of NBA Finals

DALLAS — (AP) — Kristaps Porzingis hasn't played a game in Dallas since the Mavericks traded him nearly 2 1/2 years ago, and now it is uncertain if he will play there in Game 3 of the NBA Finals for the Boston Celtics.

Porzingis has a rare tendon injury in his lower left leg, which occurred in the third quarter of Boston's 105-98 victory for a 2-0 series lead. The team said Tuesday that he was day-to-day, and Porzingis said he will do everything he can to play Wednesday night.

Asked if it was a pain-tolerance issue or if he could do more damage, Porzingis said he didn't know the specifics.

"That's something I'll leave in the medical staff’s hands to determine whether I can go or not,” he said. “Nothing is going to stop me unless I’m told I’m not to, or not allowed to play. That’s the only reason I would not be out there.”

The 7-foot-2 Latvian center has a tear in tissue that holds tendons in place. The Celtics said it was unrelated to the right calf strain that sidelined him for 10 consecutive playoff games before he returned last Thursday for the start of the NBA Finals.

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla described it as a “serious injury” and said the team wouldn't put Porzingis in any bad situations. Porzingis is listed as questionable.

“We’ve taken the decision to play out of his hands because the importance of him,” Mazzulla said. “He’s going to do everything he can to play. We’re going to leave it up to our medical team. That’s really it.”

Porzingis was wearing slides instead of sneakers when he spoke with reporters before practice. He walked with a slight limp and had a black sleeve covering his lower left leg on the off day.

Without elaborating, he said he was having treatment all day and doing whatever the medical staff told him. He wasn't on the court for the open portion of practice.

“I can't trick them into allowing me to play,” he said.

Porzingis said he felt something after bumping knees Sunday night with Dallas center Dereck Lively II but kept playing. He left the game in the final minute of the third quarter and played only about 3 1/2 minutes in the fourth.

After the game, Porzingis downplayed any injury concern, saying he was optimistic and would “die out there if we need.”

On Tuesday, he said, “I'm living by those words. ... I mean I hope not, but if it comes to that to win, I guess.”

In his return during Game 1, his first career game beyond the first round, Porzingis jump-started the Celtics with 11 points and two blocks in the first quarter of the 107-89 win while finishing with 20 points, three blocks and six rebounds. He scored 12 points in 23 minutes of Game 2.

“We’re just so much of a better team when we have him. 7-4 unicorn, right? He’s as talented as they come,” Celtics forward Jayson Tatum said. "Yes, we’ve had success and found ways to win without him. Obviously, we’re better when he’s on the team, when he’s out there playing with us.”

The 28-year-old Porzingis was the fourth overall pick by the New York Knicks in 2015, and was an All-Star before a torn ACL forced him to miss all of 2018-19. They traded him to Dallas in January 2019, a deal involving seven players and two first-round draft picks.

Dallas traded Porzingis to Washington on Feb. 10, 2022, and the Wizards sent him to Boston in a three-team trade last summer.

When the Wizards played at Dallas in January 2023, Porzingis was inactive after playing in 12 of their previous 13 games. He also didn't play for the Celtics this past January, when they visited American Airlines Center the night after he had 32 points, six rebounds and five blocked shots in Houston.

“The first time I came back, I was not playing that game, I was with Washington, and I had a warm welcome here. They even did a tribute video, which was very unexpected for me, but that was very nice," Porzingis said. "I think the organization, the people on the inside appreciated my time here, and that was very nice. ... No bad feeling about this place. I love this city, love the fans, and it just didn’t work out.”

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA

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