Kristaps Porzingis has ‘rare’ leg injury; questionable for Game 3

Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis suffered what the team called a “rare injury” to his left leg and is officially listed as questionable for Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday.

The Celtics revealed Tuesday that Porzingis has a torn medial retinaculum allowing dislocation of the posterior tibialis tendon in his left leg. The team stated Porzingis’ status for the upcoming Finals games will “determined day-to-day.”

“It’s kind of a random situation,” Porzingis said Tuesday. “I felt something, and now I have to deal with it.

“As we said, yeah, it’s going to be day-to-day, and I’ll see how I am tomorrow, and obviously I’m going to do everything I can to be out there tomorrow, and we’ll see.”

Sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that, as of Tuesday, there’s no indication Porzingis will be ruled out and not permitted to try to play versus the Dallas Mavericks in Game 3.

The Celtics said the injury occurred in the third quarter of their Game 2 victory Sunday.

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Porzingis could be seen wearing a sleeve and a brace of some sort on his left leg Tuesday, in addition to what appeared to be a brace on his left ankle. But he was walking around without a limp, and — as he often does — put on an optimistic tone when asked whether he thought he’d be able to play in Game 3, when the Celtics will attempt to take a 3-0 lead and move to within one victory of a record-setting 18th NBA title.

“I don’t care,” Porzingis said, when asked whether his injuries in these playoffs are weighing on his mind. “I’ve been through some stuff in my career, and obviously this is a rough patch coming back and having something happen right away again. It’s tough … just a tough moment right now.

“But I’m feeling pretty good. I’m feeling pretty good. Mind is good. We’ll see tomorrow.”

Porzingis had just come back for Game 1 of the NBA Finals after missing more than five weeks with a calf strain, an injury he suffered in the second quarter of Game 4 of Boston’s first-round series victory over the Miami Heat.

He exploded for 11 points in the first quarter of Game 1 off the bench — the first time he’d come off the bench as a Celtic — and then reprised that role in Game 2. Boston is plus-25 in the 44 minutes Porzingis has played in this series and is even in the 52 minutes he has been on the bench.

When asked about Porzingis’ status at the start of his news conference, Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla stated any decision on whether Porzingis will play will be determined not by Porzingis himself but by the team’s medical staff, in order to remove the decision-making power from his hands.

“Yeah, I mean, listen, he’s doing anything and everything he can to be ready for the game tomorrow,” Mazzulla said. “It’s a serious injury. At the end of the day, our team and the medical team is not going to put him in any bad situations.

“We’ve taken the decision to play out of his hands. … He’s going to do everything he can to play. We’re going to leave it up to our medical team. That’s really it.”

Porzingis admitted he wasn’t really sure what the potential ramifications would be if he tried to play, in terms of his injury potentially getting worse.

“I don’t know,” Porzingis said. “I don’t know the specifics. But that’s something I’ll leave in the medical staff’s hands to determine whether I can go or not. But from my side, as I said, nothing is going to stop me unless I’m told I’m not allowed to play. That’s the only reason I would not be out there.”

If Porzingis is ruled out or limited in Game 3, a bigger burden will be placed on Al Horford, who has remained in Boston’s starting lineup but has struggled at times in the playoffs when his minutes had to be ramped up into the high 30s and low 40s.

The Celtics also could see either Luke Kornet or Xavier Tillman — their other primary backup options at center — get some minutes as the series progresses, which could provide an opening for Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving to attack Boston’s defense.

But for Boston, the mission doesn’t change whether Porzingis is available, limited or out for Game 3.

“Same old, same old,” Celtics forward Jaylen Brown said. “KP has been tremendous for our group, not just in the playoffs, but all season long. It’s obvious him on the floor just helps elevate us to a different level.

“But we’ve been priding ourselves on next-man-up mentality. We prepare for these moments to be able to play with or without anyone. It just requires somebody else on our team to step up and everybody to buy in to get a full team victory.”

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