Kristaps Porzingis Injury & Status Updates for the NBA Finals: Everything to Know About Starter's Impact

The Boston Celtics center has not played since Game 4 of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Kristaps Porzingis at TD Garden
Kristaps Porzingis at TD Garden / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
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Editors’ note, June 5, 4:40 p.m. ET: This story has been updated to reflect the Boston Celtics' injury report for Game 1 of the 2024 NBA Finals.

There are many impressive aspects of the Boston Celtics' march through the Eastern Conference to the NBA Finals. Perhaps most impressive is that they ran through all their opponents without Kristaps Porzingis.

Porzingis, who averaged 20.1 points and 1.9 blocks in 29.6 minutes per game this season, went down with a calf injury on April 29 during Game 4 of the Celtics' first round series against the Miami Heat.. He hasn't seen the floor since, but Boston still posted an absurd 12-2 record over the first three rounds of the playoffs. Since he was healthy for one of those losses, that means the Celtics lost only one game in the month Porzingis has missed.

It is remarkable in many ways and speaks to the depth of the roster that president of basketball operations Brad Stevens built. And with Boston securing its place in the 2024 NBA Finals by way of sweeping the Indiana Pacers on Monday night, the time has finally arrived to see if the franchise can earn its 18th championship. The health of Porzingis will play a substantial role in that quest, and the Celtics earned themselves an extended break to get everybody (including their Latvian big man) healthy as can be.

Will Porzingis return in time to help the Celtics battle in the NBA Finals? Here's the latest on his right soleus strain.

Kristaps Porzingis Injury Status for Game 1

Over the last week all signs have been pointing to Porzingis being ready to go for tip-off on Thursday for Game 1 of the NBA Finals. He confirmed this to be the case while speaking to reporters on Wednesday, stating plainly that he plans to play.

As the Celtics have made abundantly clear over the last four weeks, they can win without Porzingis. But to reach the mountaintop and cement themselves in NBA history, they will take all the help they can get. A possible return at full health would be a game-changer against the Mavericks.

UPDATE, June 5, 4:40 p.m. ET: The Celtics released their injury report for Game 1 of the Finals, and Porzingis is not listed. That means he's going to suit up.

How important would Porzingis be against Dallas?

Why the Celtics need Porzingis against the Mavericks

While the Celtics, by and large, match up well with the Mavericks, Porzingis would alter both ends of the court drastically. His ability to score on smaller defenders would severely limit the effectiveness of the switch-everything defense the Mavs have employed so successfully this playoffs. It's one thing when Luka Doncic or Kyrie Irving is switched onto Rudy Gobert, who for all his value does not punish defenders in the post. But when they end up on Porzingis, who averaged 1.09 points per possession on post-up attempts (ninth in the NBA)? It means an easy bucket for Boston more often than not, and easy buckets are not supposed to happen in the NBA Finals.

If the Mavs don't switch, then Porzingis needs to space the floor in order to ensure Daniel Gafford and Dereck Lively II don't live in the paint. Dallas's pair of big men have been excellent locking down rim attempts in the postseason, which is especially crucial given Irving and Doncic's energy can wane on that end. Keeping Porzingis out beyond the three-point line means head coach Jason Kidd has to choose between guarding the 7-foot-3 center with one of Gafford/Lively, taking away easy chances to contest layups, or put someone smaller out there and start with a mismatch on Porzingis.

Defensively the Celtics may be challenged to play to Porzingis's strengths. He's best in drop coverage, and drop coverage is tough to play against shot-makers like the Mavs boast. Al Horford is a better switching defender and may end up playing big minutes as he did throughout the opening weeks of the playoffs. But Porzingis did average 1.9 blocks per game. He is a great rim protector whose skills are always useful, even if they may not be exactly optimal in this series.

Kristaps Porzingis Injury History

As noted in a previous article about this very topic, Porinzigs' injury history is concerning and why the Celtics are taking it so slow.

His 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 now missed 10 games.

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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.