Kristaps Porzingis 'Ramping Up' Toward NBA Finals Return

Apr 5, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (8) reacts to game action against the Sacramento Kings during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 5, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (8) reacts to game action against the Sacramento Kings during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
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Reports of Kristaps Porzingis potentially returning for Game 4 against the Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals sparked optimism that aged into concern when the seven-foot-three center got ruled out a day before tip-off.

That he wasn't even questionable to participate in that matchup prompted questions about whether he suffered a setback, if it's not mild, but rather a more severe soleus strain in his right calf that he's rehabbing from, and if his season is already over.

Payton Pritchard was the first to fan the flames, telling NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chin at shoot around on Monday morning, "He looks really good. I think he'll be ready shortly."

Then came Shams Charania reporting on The Rally on Stadium: "I'm told there are a few hurdles he has to clear, but he is aiming, he is pushing, he is trying to get back and ready in the lineup for Game 1 of the Finals next week."

According to Jeff Stotts, a certified athletic trainer and an injury analyst for SMART and Rotowire, the average time lost to a soleus strain is roughly 17 days, which loosely translates to six games. 

But each case presents its own unique circumstances. So, while Game 1 of the NBA Finals will be 38 days from when Porzingis got injured in Game 4 against the Heat in the first round, what matters most in getting cleared to return is when he progresses from working one-on-one with the coaching staff to when he plays five-on-five and how his body responds.

As the former All-Star continues attacking his rehab, in an appearance on Zolak and Bertrand two days after Boston punched its ticket to the NBA Finals for the second time in three years, Joe Mazzulla shared the following about when Celtics fans might see Porzingis in the lineup.

"I don't know," began the team's second-year bench boss. "I do know he's ramped it up on the court a little bit. I do know, like I've said, he's working really, really hard. There's a couple (of) shoot-arounds where he hasn't done anything with the team, but he's been in a one-on-one set kind of ramping it up, the intensity level of it, so I know he's getting better and better."

Wednesday also included an encouraging message from the Latvian native, posting a message on X that, according to the platform formerly known as Twitter, translates to: "Thank you to everyone who supports and sympathizes throughout the season. I'll be back in line soon. See you in the finals and then in the arena with your own."

So, while the forecast is too cloudy to know if Porzingis will return for Game 1 of the Finals on June 6, the team and its fan base can at least take comfort in knowing he's trending towards rejoining the Celtics' pursuit of Banner 18 in the last leg of the race, a series that will either pit them against two rim-rolling centers like Dereck Lively II and Daniel Gafford or, in the event of the Timberwolves becoming the first team to erase a 3-0 deficit in NBA history, the twin-tower combination of Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert.

Along with helping space the floor, the seven-year veteran can help manage the minutes of ageless wonder, Al Horford, who's showing no signs of slowing down while working to add an NBA title to a legacy he's already cemented.

Further Reading

Al Horford Returns to NBA Finals Aiming to Add to a Legacy Already Cemented

Jaylen Brown's Evolution Propels Him to Eastern Conference Finals MVP

Crunch-Time Resolve Sends Celtics Back to NBA Finals

From Uncertain to Game 3 Hero, Jrue Holiday Propels Celtics to Finals Precipice

Celtics' Championship Mettle Has Them on Verge of NBA Finals

Celtics Grab Elusive Game 2 Win vs. Pacers, Now Halfway to NBA Finals

Jrue Holiday Starts Eastern Conference Finals with Best Game as a Celtic

Jaylen Brown's Heroics Propel Celtics to 1-0 Lead in Conference Finals

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Bobby Krivitsky


Bobby Krivitsky's experiences include covering the NBA as a credentialed reporter for Basketball Insiders. He's also a national sports talk host for SportsMap Radio, a network airing on 96 radio stations throughout the country. Additionally, he was a major-market host, update anchor, and producer for IMG Audio, and he worked for Bleacher Report as an NFL and NBA columnist.