Celtics Notes: Porzingis, Game 5, Van Gundy, Draft

Kristaps Porzingis, who hasn’t played in either of the past two games of the NBA Finals due to a “rare” leg injury, is listed as questionable to play in Game 5. While it’s possible he’s active for Monday’s contest, like he was on Friday, Shams Charania of The Athletic said during an appearance on FanDuel’s Run it Back show (Twitter video link) that the big man seems unlikely to play a significant role.

“Right before Game 4, what I was told is that they would only utilize Kristaps Porzingis in situational appearances,” Charania said. “When you’re guarding the inbound, if you need to shoot a free throw, when you need to defend the rim on a lob threat with (little) time left on a possession. I would expect the same here in Game 5. … He’s just not there from a physical perspective.”

Celtics big man Xavier Tillman, who has seen some action in Games 3 and 4 with Porzingis unavailable, suggested during his media availability on Sunday that his frontcourt teammate is far from 100%.

“When we go through our practices, he’s doing some stuff, but you can still tell he’s very uncomfortable,” Tillman said (Twitter video link via Noa Dalzell of Celtics Blog). Asked if there’s been any noticeable improvements in recent days since Porzingis was diagnosed with the injury following Game 2, Tillman replied, “It’s been pretty much the same.”

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • As Sam Amick of The Athletic details, Jayson Tatum spoke on Sunday about head coach Joe Mazzulla‘s efforts to have his team carry a positive mindset into its second potential close-out game on Monday. “Joe did a great job today of reminding us that it’s OK to smile during wars,” Tatum said. “It’s OK to have fun during high-pressure moments. We would love to win tomorrow, more than anything. But if it doesn’t happen, it’s not the end of the world. We have more opportunities. So just setting that (mindset) of ‘Don’t surrender to that idea that we have to win tomorrow.’ We would love to, absolutely. But Game 5 is the biggest game of the season because it’s the next game on the schedule. So (it’s) going with that mindset and just have fun. That’s really what we talked about today. Get back to having fun and being a team and how special we are and the team that got us here.”
  • Jeff Van Gundy joined the Celtics as a senior consultant last fall after being fired by ESPN and enduring a series of hardships in his personal life, including a death in the family, he revealed during an appearance on The Mark Jackson Show (hat tip to Brian Robb of MassLive.com). Given that context, Van Gundy appreciated the way that the franchise “embraced and welcomed” him. “I was really in an awkward place in life, not really knowing where I was going or what my purpose was, or how I’d be with this new group of people where I didn’t know anyone,” Van Gundy said. “It’s been one of the most rejuvenating things I’ve ever gone through. Brad Stevens and Joe Mazzulla threw me a lifeline.”
  • The Celtics hosted a pre-draft workout over the weekend that featured Ryan Dunn (Virginia), Justin Edwards (Kentucky), Enrique Freeman (Akron), and Judah Mintz (Syraucse), tweets Adam Zagoria of NJ.com. Boston controls the 30th and 54th overall picks in this year’s draft, while those four prospects rank between 31st (Edwards) and 78th (Mintz) on ESPN’s big board for 2024.
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