2024 NBA Finals

Celtics' Kristaps Porzingis misses Game 3 with left leg injury

Boston's versatile big man suffered the injury in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

Kristaps Porzingis discusses his leg injury and whether he'll be available for the rest of the 2024 NBA Finals.

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DALLAS – Kristaps Porzingis’ long-anticipated return to Dallas took a turn for the worse Wednesday as the Boston Celtics ruled out their starting center for Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Boston, however, prevailed without him, taking a 3-0 lead on the Mavericks with a 106-99 win.

Porzingis suffered a torn medial retinaculum in the third quarter of Sunday’s Game 2, which led to a dislocation of the posterior tibialis tendon in his left leg. The Celtics said Porzingis’ latest setback isn’t related to the right calf injury he suffered against Miami in the opening round of the playoffs.

“It’s just day-to-day,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said before tipoff. “The medical team and the staff just decided that it wasn’t what’s best for him to go tonight. It’ll just be a day-to-day thing and (we’ll) see how he is tomorrow and the next day.

“Obviously you saw in the first two games his rim protection, his ability to space the floor. But I think the thing that prepared us this year is our depth. The guys that are stepping in can do different things and have a positive impact, which they’ve done. So, we just have to rely on that.”

Boston had listed the center as questionable on Wednesday’s injury report.

Porzingis injured his right calf in the opening round of the postseason and sat out more than a month before returning to play in Boston’s Game 1 win over the Mavericks.

The center scored 20 points on 8-for-13 shooting before contributing 12 points in Game 2. The nine-year veteran also tallied 10 rebounds and five blocks over the first two games of the series.

Porzingis was clearly hobbled late in that outing but gutted out 23 minutes. Attempting to grab a rebound near the free throw line, Porzingis said he was pushed into Dallas rookie Dereck Lively II and the two bumped knees, causing the injury.

“I just kept playing for a while after that,” Porzingis said. “Towards the end, my movement was affected a bit.”

Porzingis averaged 20.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 57 regular-season games as the Celtics finished with the league’s best record.

Boston owns a record of 30-5 this season without Porzingis, including 9-1 in the postseason, but the Celtics know they’re a more effective team with their 7-footer on the floor.

“A 7-4 unicorn, right?” Celtics forward Jayson Tatum said. “He’s as talented as they come, presents so many matchup problems on the offensive end. Then on the defensive end, he’s somebody that can affect shots, protect the rim. We’ve had success and found ways to win without him.

“Obviously, we’re better when he’s out there playing with us.”

Porzingis still hasn’t played a game in American Airlines Center since Dallas traded him in 2022 to the Washington Wizards.

“Some black magic, no?” he joked.

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Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on X.

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