Mannix: Porzingis’ health is ‘worth watching’ ahead of Game 3

Mannix: Porzingis’ health is ‘worth watching’ ahead of Game 3 originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Kristaps Porzingis insisted he’ll do everything he can to play in Game 3 of the 2024 NBA Finals, jokingly suggesting he’ll “die out there” if needed.

But even if the Boston Celtics big man is on the court Wednesday night in Dallas against the Mavericks, will he be limited in some way? And what kind of ripple effect could that have on his team?

During an appearance Monday on NBC Sports Boston’s Arbella Early Edition, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix expressed concern about Porzingis’ injury, which he appeared to suffer with about 6:20 to play in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s Game 2 while defending Mavs wing P.J. Washington on a drive.

“He sort of just stumbled all over the place,” Mannix said of the play that caused Porzingis’ injury, which you can watch in the video above. “And when I watched him from my seat on the sideline, he did have that stretch band out and he was working on that left leg — not the right leg that caused him to miss the 38 days, but the left leg. But even though that’s certainly better than reinjuring the right, now you’re wondering, like, is he gonna start overcompensating on one leg?

“These are the types of injuries that can get reaggravated very quickly when a guy gets back out there on the floor too soon. So, his health is absolutely something worth watching going into Game 3.”

Sunday was just Porzingis’ second game back from a right calf strain he suffered in Game 4 of Boston‘s first-round series against the Miami Heat. The Celtics big man was excellent in Game 1 with 20 points and three blocks in 20 minutes of play and started out strong in Game 2 with eight first-quarter points, but head coach Joe Mazzulla subbed him out with just over four minutes to play in the fourth quarter in favor of Al Horford.

The Celtics hung on for a 105-98 win to take a 2-0 series lead and have a track record of success without Porzingis, going 9-1 in the 10 games he missed earlier this postseason. But Mannix still would be worried from a Boston perspective if the 7-foot-2 big man were to miss additional time.

“I think if he’s out, it opens the door for the Mavericks to come back,” Mannix said. “Because even though Al Horford has been brilliant this postseason, Al Horford is at his very best when the Celtics are keeping him right around 30 minutes or less in each of these games.

“And if you’re gonna do that without Porzingis, you’re talking about playing Luke Kornet extended minutes, you’re talking about playing Oshae Brissett some of these minutes. These are not guys that I think are quite ready for primetime in a series like this. They need Kristaps Porzingis.”

The Celtics will aim to improve to 7-0 on the road this postseason in Game 3 at American Airlines Center. Tip-off is set for 8:30 p.m. ET, with Celtics Pregame Live beginning at 7 p.m.

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