Good news: The star player for the Celtics is healthy enough to participate in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Mavericks…

When asked if he will play in Thursday’s Game 1 without any pain, Kristaps PorziņĒis paused for a long time before answering in the affirmative.

Celtics' Porzingis will play in Game 1 of NBA Finals vs. Mavericks

One day later, he is questioned about any concerns he has about going back. Before putting each leg to the test during the team’s TD Garden practice, he checked the definition of the word twice then leaned back on each to make shots. It wasn’t the word he would use to express his feelings.

Once more, something prevented the big guy from promoting his return.

Having missed the previous two series, Porziņģis acknowledged the difficulty of playing at the greatest level of the playoffs after pledging to return for the start of the Finals. Though he has no idea how the game would play out, he is neither wary nor scared about playing.

“I haven’t played in a long time,” stated Porziņġis. “I’m going to have my first minutes tomorrow.” Even though I tried my hardest to be ready for today, nothing compares to the game minutes and experience I will have tomorrow. Thus, it will be difficult to enter the Finals in this manner, but I made every effort to get ready, and we’ll find out tomorrow night.

Following their final practice before Game 1, on Wednesday, the Celtics took Porziņis off the injury report. Joe Mazzulla anticipates rust being the only problem when he plugs him back into the game, even though his role and minutes limits are still unknown.

He may fit into the group that went 9-1 without him in part because to his conditioning and rhythm. More than five weeks have passed since he had a soleus strain during Game 4 of the first round in Miami, which is when the physical issues initially surfaced.

Even before Porziņģis spoke this week for the first time, a number of doctors who provided their outside expertise expressed confidence in his ability to play in the Finals.

They also warned about the difficulties that would arise, such as the possibility that he might not be fully recovered—a subject that Porziņģis did not address—the possibility of discomfort, and the unique strain that basketball puts on that muscle in a seven-footer.

After recuperating from a soleus injury for more than three weeks, Giannis Antetokounmpo admitted he was still far from playing at his best. Porziņģis feels good, but didn’t get to play in actual games before the Finals – sounds as concerned about leaping into this situation than playing basketball in general.

“I believe that if they weren’t sure I would be okay, the medical staff wouldn’t have put me out there,” Porziņčis stated. “I’ve completed the tasks required to mark the boxes, and that’s it.

Naturally, replicating the same level of intensity in practice is challenging. That degree of intensity is going to be entirely different. I have to have faith that everything will work out.

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