Kristaps Porzingis Injury Updates: Everything to Know About Starter's Status and Impact

The Celtics star has been sidelined since April 29 with a calf injury.
Kristaps Porzingis
Kristaps Porzingis / Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Editors’ note, May 27, 9:15 a.m. ET: This story has been updated to reflect reported update that Porzingis will miss Game 4 on Monday night.

The Boston Celtics have rolled through the Eastern Conference bracket in the 2024 NBA playoffs, eliminating the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers in five games apiece to secure a berth in the conference finals. Most impressively, they've done so without their third-highest scorer and primary rim protector.

Kristaps Porzingis, who averaged 20.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game during the regular season, exited Game 4 against the Heat on April 29 with a calf strain. He's been sidelined ever since. Clearly the Celtics have not missed his absence too much, but now facing the Indiana Pacers with an NBA Finals trip on the line, they need all the help they can get.

How close is Porzingis to returning? Here are all the injury updates that have been released to this point.

Kristaps Porzingis Injury Status for Game 4

On Sunday, the Celtics ruled Porzingis out of the lineup for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals as he continues to recover from his right soleus strain.

Kristaps Porzingis Eastern Conference Finals Injury Status

As noted above, Porzingis has already been ruled out of Game 1. For those who follow ESPN newsbreakers, it was not a revelation. On May 17, Adrian Wojnarowski reported Porzingis was expected to miss both Game 1 and Game 2, but there is "optimism" he'll be able to return during the Pacers' series, barring any setbacks. Porzingis will have missed nearly a full month by the time Game 3 tips off on May 25.

UPDATE, May 21, 8:01 p.m. ET: Wojnarowski later reported sources have told him Porzingis could debut, "as soon as," Game 4, which is slated for Monday, May 27.

UPDATE, May 23, 1:34 p.m. ET: Porzingis was ruled out by the Celtics ahead of Game 2.

UPDATE, May 27, 9:15 a.m. ET: Porzingis was ruled out by the Celtics for Game 4, a mild surprise given what Wojnarowski previously reported. However, all the optimism in the world cannot change reality. It seems Porzingis, who is coming up on one month since he suffered the injury, needs more time before he's ready to go.

The Celtics have proven time and time again that they can win without the Latvian big man, but they need everybody to raise the franchise's 18th banner. The sooner he gets back the better for Boston, especially if they prevail over the six-seed Pacers and advance to the NBA Finals.

Why the Celtics Miss Porzingis

If you are unfamiliar with this year's Celtics team, it may be confusing to see all this emphasis on Porzingis' return when they have yet to be threatened in the postseason. The roster is obviously loaded and every player who steps on the court is above-average in some capacity. So why is Porzingis so important for Boston's title hopes?

The simple answer is that his skillset is entirely unique. Porzingis is famously an excellent shooter for an athlete of his size, shooting 37.5% from three while standing at 7-foot-3. He's the sort of threat that forces the opposing team's center to guard the three-point line instead of the rim, which opens up the lane for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Simultaneously, he can defend the rim at an extremely high level; he averaged 1.9 blocks per game this season and ranked in the top 10 defending shots within six feet of the rim.

As an added bonus, Porzingis can score in the post, too, an especially critical component of his role in Boston. Opposing defenses can't switch the Celtics' pick-and-rolls because Porzingis can then post up a much smaller defender and effectively earn a wide-open basket. It was an incredibly effective tactic for the Celtics this year; Porzingis post-up attempts averaged 1.09 points per possession, also good for ninth in the entire league.

All that is to say Porzingis allows Boston to attack defenses in multiple different ways and his rim protection provides a strong backbone to an already-elite defense.

Porzingis' Matchup Against Myles Turner

In regards to this particular series, Porzingis would be matched up with opposing center Myles Turner, should he return in time to play in the Pacers' series. Porzingis' ability to shoot would force Turner to abandon the rim in order to ensure the Celtics star doesn't get a wide-open three-point attempt.

This would be a huge advantage for Boston because Turner has been one of the league's elite rim protectors for many years. He averaged 1.9 blocks per contest this year, which is his lowest mark since the 2017-'18 season. Turner has led the leagues in blocks per game twice. He's extremely tough to score on, but if the Celtics get him out of the paint, his impact is mitigated and Boston's offense opens all the way up.

Kristaps Porzingis Injury History

Porzingis' injury against Miami was very unfortunate for team and player but not necessarily unexpected. When he was traded to Boston, the consensus opinion was that he could be a huge part of the team's quest to win a championship— if he can stay healthy. That "if" loomed large all season because Porzingis has a worrisome injury history.

The most serious injury came in February 2018, when Porzingis tore his ACL while playing for the New York Knicks. He missed the rest of the 2017-'18 season and the entirety of the 2018-'19 season in recovery. Since then, Porzingis has accumulated all sorts of bumps, brusies, and strains that have forced him to miss considerable time. He missed 39 games in 2020-'21, 31 games in 2021-'22, and 17 games in 2022-'23.

This past season, Porzingis missed 28 regular season games as he dealt with a variety of small injuries, the most severe of which was a calf strain that forced him to sit out a handful of contests. After suffering his right soleus strain, Porzingis has missed six games and counting.


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Liam McKeone

LIAM MCKEONE

Liam McKeone is a Senior Writer for the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. In addition to his role as a writer, he collaborates with other teams across Minute Media to help define his team’s content strategy. He has been in the industry as a content creator since 2017, and prior to joining SI in 2024, Liam worked for NBC Sports Boston and The Big Lead. In addition to his work as a writer, he has hosted the Press Pass Podcast covering sports media and The Big Stream covering pop culture. A graduate of Fordham University, Liam is always up for a good debate and enjoys loudly arguing about sports, rap music, books, and video games. Liam has been a member of the National Sports Media Association (NSMA) since 2020.