Atlantic Notes: Porzingis, Mazzulla, Thomas, Barrett

Kristaps Porzingis has already been ruled out of Monday’s in-season tournament quarterfinal at Indiana, but the Celtics are optimistic he’ll return to action this week, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter).

According to Woj, there’s “increasing confidence” that Porzingis will be available for the semifinal against either Milwaukee or New York if Boston advances past the Pacers. That would take place on Thursday if the Celtics win tonight, but if they lose and are eliminated, their next game would be a normal regular season contest on Friday.

Here’s more from the Atlantic:

  • Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla has ruffled some feathers amongst rival teams this season with some of his decisions, including intentionally fouling Bulls center Andre Drummond in the fourth quarter of a blowout victory last week when Boston was trying to secure a berth in the quarterfinal via point differential. Mazzulla says he’s not worried about being friendly with opposing coaches, per Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe (subscriber link). “How do I say this nicely? I don’t care,” he said. “But I also have respect for people. Like I learn from every coach, I think they’re a lot of great coaches in the league. I’ve studied what other teams do. But as far as having an off-court relationship with a coach? I don’t. That’s like last on the list.”
  • Nets guard Cam Thomas shot just 7-of-23 from the floor in Saturday’s victory over Orlando, which snapped the Magic’s nine-game winning streak. However, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post writes, Thomas contributed in other ways in his second game back from an ankle injury, drawing double-teams while recording seven rebounds and a season-high five assists. “Look at the passes that he threw. He can play-make. He’s more than a scorer,” said head coach Jacque Vaughn. “He’s really taken a step on the defensive end of the floor, which makes me extremely happy as a coach that he wants to defend. He’s gotten better at defending.” Vaughn also praised Thomas’ preparation and ability to draw fouls.
  • Knicks forward RJ Barrett had a strong start to the 2023/24 season interrupted by migraines, which caused him to miss three games, and he’s still trying to regain his prior form, writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post. The 23-year-old is shooting just 34.4% from the field and 25.0% from long distance over the past seven games. “Having a week where you don’t play, it’s not ideal,” Barrett said. “But at the end of the day, I’ve also had a [few] weeks where I’ve been playing. No excuses; I’m kind of getting back to it.”
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