Luke Kornet

Kristaps Porzingis Unavailable For Game 3

7:55pm: Appearing on NBA Countdown, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said there is “real doubt” about Porzingis’ availability for the rest of the NBA Finals (video link).


5:45pm: Kristaps Porzingis will miss tonight’s Game 3 of the NBA Finals due to a posterior tibialis dislocation in his left leg, the Celtics announced (via Twitter).

The injury occurred late in the third quarter of Sunday’s game as Porzingis battled for rebounding position on a free throw. The team called his condition “rare” and said it’s not related to a right calf strain that kept him out of action for more than a month.

Porzingis has been a difference maker in the first two games of the series, coming off the bench to average 16 points and five rebounds in 21.9 minutes per night. Boston has a +27.7 net rating when he has been on the court vs. Dallas.

Porzingis brushed aside concerns about the injury Sunday night and indicated that he expected to be ready for the next game. However, the decision was ultimately made by the Celtics’ medical staff, who don’t believe it’s wise to let him play. It may be significant that the decision was announced nearly two hours before game time, rather than letting Porzingis participate in warm-ups to see how he responds.

In his pre-game meeting with reporters, coach Joe Mazzulla said the medical team watched Porzingis go through some tests and determined he wasn’t ready, tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Mazzulla added that Porzingis will be considered day-to-day for Friday’s Game 4 and beyond, per Eddie Sefko of Mavs. com (Twitter link).

With two days of rest since Game 2, starting center Al Horford might log more minutes than usual tonight. Horford played 30 and 28 minutes in the first two games against the Mavericks, but he was on the court for 40 minutes during the last game of the Eastern Conference finals against Indiana while Porzingis was sidelined.

Mazzulla may also opt to give more playing time to backup big men Luke Kornet and Neemias Queta. Kornet saw about three minutes of action in Game 1, while Queta hasn’t played yet in the series.

Celtics Notes: Lee, Porzingis, Tatum, Pagliuca

Celtics assistant Charles Lee is the only participant in the NBA Finals who’s working two jobs. Lee, who was hired more than a month ago as the Hornets‘ next head coach, is preparing to take over in Charlotte while fulfilling his commitment to his current team, writes Marc J. Spears of Andscape.

Lee said he sought advice from Kings head coach Mike Brown, who was in the same situation two years ago as an assistant with Golden State.

“The biggest thing is focusing on the right now, which I need to,” Lee said. “When my Celtics hat is on, I’m fully engaged. That is where my mind is at. When I leave the arena, all of the sudden you have to think about your staff and connecting with your players and what does the training camp and Summer League look like. I’ve been making pretty good progress.”

Once the Finals are done, Lee will only have a few days to spend with the Hornets before the draft and the start of free agency. He has already started to familiarize himself with the team, according to Spears, meeting LaMelo Ball for lunch, watching a pair of workouts in Charlotte, and holding Zoom calls with prospective members of his coaching staff. Lee told Spears that he plans to coach the Hornets’ Summer League team in July.

“I’m so excited for a number of reasons,” Lee said. “Nothing is ever given to you. And you have to work for it. And that’s what I’m all about and the mentality I want to bring to Charlotte, too. It’s not going to be easy. No one is going to give us anything. But we have to work every day. You have to be obsessed with daily improvement.”

There’s more on the Celtics:

  • The leg injury that Kristaps Porzingis suffered in Game 2 has the potential to change the direction of the series, observe Jared Weiss and Jay King of The Athletic. Weiss notes that Boston hasn’t been nearly as good defensively in the playoffs with backup big men Luke Kornet and Neemias Queta on the court, while King suggests Jayson Tatum may see time at center in small-ball lineups if Porzingis is unavailable.
  • Tatum tells Khari Thompson of The Boston Globe that he’s reached a point in his career where he can help the Celtics even when his shot isn’t falling. Tatum is just 12-of-38 from the field in the past two games, but he’s contributing by rebounding, passing and playing defense. “I think being in the Finals two years ago has helped me in this moment,” he said. “I understand that I do need to be more efficient. I do need to shoot the ball better, I would not disagree with anybody on that. But I’m not letting it bother me. I’m still trying to find ways to impact the game and dominate the game in other areas.”
  • Celtics minority owner Stephen Pagliuca spoke to Brian Lewis and Josh Kosman of The New York Post about how close he came to joining Joe Tsai in his purchase of the Nets in 2017.

Pacers’ Tyrese Haliburton Out For Game 4

Pacers star guard Tyrese Haliburton won’t play in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight against the Celtics, Joe Vardon of The Athletic tweets. Haliburton also missed Game 3 on Saturday due to a left hamstring strain.

Indiana, which is facing elimination, nearly won Game 3 without its All-Star point guard until Boston staged a fourth-quarter rally. Andrew Nembhard stepped up his production with 32 points but Ben Sheppard, who was inserted into the starting lineup, was held scoreless in 26 minutes.

Haliburton suffered the injury during the 126-110 Game 2 loss in Boston. He had just 10 points and eight assists in that contest after a 25-point, 10-assist outing in Game 1.

He underwent an MRI on Saturday, and the risk of doing further damage with his team facing long odds of a comeback outweighs trying to push through it. He also dealt with a hamstring strain during the regular season. Haliburton, a third-team All-NBA selection, has averaged 18.7 PPG and 8.2 APG in the playoffs.

The Celtics have announced that Jrue Holiday and Luke Kornet, who were on Sunday’s injury report, are available, Keith Smith of Spotrac tweets. Kristaps Porzingis remains out.

Celtics Notes: Tatum, Game 3, Porzingis, Kornet, Holiday

With the Celtics down two centers, Jayson Tatum is ready to spend time in the middle in small-ball lineups, writes Khari Thompson of The Boston Globe. Luke Kornet, who was initially listed as doubtful after spraining his left wrist in Game 2, has been downgraded to out. He’ll be on the bench alongside Kristaps Porzingis, who hasn’t played since April 30 because of a strained right calf.

That leaves Boston with few options behind starter Al Horford. Xavier Tillman played just three minutes on Thursday after missing Game 1 for personal reasons, and Neemias Queta has only made two brief appearances during the playoffs. Tatum admitted that he’s not used to playing center, but added that the team has prepared for this scenario.

“At this point in the season, it’s whatever you’ve got to do to help the team win,” he said. “It doesn’t feel unnatural, but it is something different that we’ve worked on and talked about throughout the season in practices and things like that. So, it’s not like a shock or anything like that.”

Despite a size disadvantage, the Celtics were able to out-rebound Indiana by a 40-37 margin in Game 2, holding 6’11” Myles Turner to just four boards. Tatum said rebounding is a team effort that starts with boxing out the Pacers’ big men.

“We’ve got to rebound. And maybe, it’s not always, ‘I’m getting it,’” he explained. “I’ve got to make sure I’m boxing out (Isaiah) Jackson or Turner, whoever I am guarding and you know five guys got to be in the paint and it’s your job to put a body on a man and somebody else to grab the ball.”

There’s more on the Celtics:

  • Tatum warns that a series can change quickly, which happened after the Pacers fell behind New York 2-0 in the second round, Thompson adds. Indiana is unbeaten at home in the postseason, and the Celtics will enter hostile surroundings tonight. “I think Game 3 is always the toughest just because you are going to a new environment, their first home game,” Tatum said. “Obviously they’re excited to be back home and we expect a great atmosphere. They’ve been really good at home, so we’ve got to be that much better.”
  • In his pregame meeting with reporters, coach Joe Mazzulla didn’t offer any clues about when Porzingis or Kornet might be able to return, tweets Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Mazzulla responded to questions about both players by saying he has “no idea.”
  • The Celtics have determined that Jrue Holiday will be able to play tonight, according to Brian Robb of MassLive (Twitter link). Holiday, who was listed as questionable with a non-COVID illness, went through a pregame warm-up before a final decision was made.

Celtics Notes: Brown, Tatum, Kornet, Brissett

After earning All-NBA honors for the first time a year ago as a member of the Second Team, Celtics swingman Jaylen Brown wasn’t included on the 2023/24 All-NBA teams that were announced on Wednesday. Brown responded on Thursday by performing like the best player on the court in Boston’s Game 2 win over Indiana, racking up 40 points on 14-of-27 shooting in 38 minutes of action.

Asked after the game if the All-NBA snub served as extra motivation entering Thursday’s contest, Brown initially responded, “No I wouldn’t say that. I mean, we’re two games from the (NBA Finals). So honestly, I don’t got the time to give a f–k.”

However, as Brian Robb of MassLive.com writes, when reporters pressed Brown on his thoughts on the All-NBA voting results, the Celtics star admitted to feeling as if not everyone fully appreciates his game.

“I watch guys get praised and anointed who I feel are half as talented as me on either side of the ball,” Brown said. “But at this point in my life, I just embrace it. It comes with being who I am and what I stand for, and I ain’t changing that. I just come out and I’m grateful to step out onto the floor each and every night, put my best foot forward and get better each and every year. Whether people appreciate it or not, it is what it is.”

While Brown didn’t get enough votes from media members to make an All-NBA team this season, his teammates certainly believe he deserved a spot, as Jay King of The Athletic relays.

“I don’t know what they missed, but Jaylen Brown is one of the 15 best players in this game,” Celtics guard Derrick White said. “The whole season, both sides of the ball, he just did so much for us to help us win games, which is the meaning of the game. It’s a shame.”

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • Jayson Tatum, who made the All-NBA First Team for a third consecutive year, referred to the honor as “special” and said he doesn’t take it for granted, per Karen Guregian of MassLive.com. “I’m thankful to everybody that’s helped me along the way,” Tatum added. “Success is not something you can achieve by yourself. There’s a lot of people that deserve credit in helping me get to where I’m at.”
  • In addition to officially ruling out Kristaps Porzingis (calf strain) for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, the Celtics announced today (via Twitter) that Luke Kornet is considered doubtful to play on Saturday. Kornet sprained his left wrist in Thursday’s victory. Assuming Kornet is unavailable, the Celtics could rely on smaller lineups when Al Horford rests or could turn to backup center Xavier Tillman, who returned on Thursday and played three minutes after missing Game 1 for personal reasons.
  • With Kornet unavailable for most of Game 3, Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla gave playing time to forward Oshae Brissett, who provided a surprise spark after not playing for nearly two weeks, Robb writes for MassLive.com. Brissett scored just two points in his 12 minutes off the bench, but he recorded three steals and matched Brown’s team-high +18 plus/minus mark. “Just trying to do everything I can to get the win,” Brissett said. “Try to do everything I can to give us some energy. We were playing really well. But going into that time, we could definitely turn things around, positive or negative. So I feel like I did a good job of turning us in the positive way and keeping that energy up.”

Celtics Notes: Cavaliers Series, Defense, Kornet, White

The Celtics fell to the Cavaliers, 118-94, in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Thursday, allowing Cleveland to shoot 46.4% from beyond the arc on 28 three-point attempts. Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe opines that this was more than a case of the Celtics simply missing shots and allowing the Cavs to get hot — they were neutralized by the presence of Evan Mobley.

After getting blown out in Game 1, the Cavaliers ran through Mobley, who finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Donovan Mitchell scored 29 points while Caris LeVert contributed 21 off the bench. It was Cleveland’s first road playoff win in six years. Nothing was working for the Celtics, Washburn writes, beyond getting Jayson Tatum to the free-throw line (11 attempts), while Derrick White and Jrue Holiday ran cold (14 combined points).

I think when you lose a game like that, it could be a combination of tactics, a combination of effort, a combination of all those things,” head coach Joe Mazzulla said. “You treat it the same way you would a win, you come in, watch the film and you get better for Game 3.”

In a similar piece, Danny Chau of The Ringer analyzes Boston’s postseason, writing that Tatum hasn’t been the best version of himself through the first seven Celtics playoff games.

Nobody in [the locker room was] defeated or deflated,” Tatum said. “You never want to lose, especially in the playoffs. A lot of things we can learn from. We get it, right? The world thinks we’re never supposed to lose. We’re supposed to win every game by 25. And it’s just not going to be like that all the time.

We have more from the Celtics:
  • This is the second straight Game 2 in which the Celtics’ opponents got hot from beyond the arc and defeated Boston on its home floor, Jared Weiss of The Athletic writes. After Mitchell made five of his seven threes and 10 of his 19 shots on the night, guard Jaylen Brown said Boston had no excuse for allowing him to heat up. “It’s the playoffs, that can’t happen. I don’t care if you’re missing shots, you’ve got to guard the guy on the other end,” Brown said. “That allows you to miss more shots if you’re playing defense. But you can’t miss shots and then allow them to make shots at the other end. That was unacceptable.
  • Boston’s starters were taken out of the game with about five minutes left in regulation in Game 2, Jay King of The Athletic observes, with the team looking ahead to Game 3. “I just felt like that was the best thing to do at that particular time,” Mazzulla said. “We have another game coming up soon.” King writes how the Celtics respond will be most indicative of their ability to — or lack thereof — to win a championship.
  • Though he didn’t make a big impact in Game 2, backup center Luke Kornet was a huge reason why Boston blew out Cleveland in Game 1 of the series, MassLive’s Brian Robb writes. Kornet, who took on a larger role due to Kristaps Porzingis‘ absence, recorded four points, 10 rebounds and a pair of blocks in the victory, sparking the Celtics bench.
  • Like Kornet, White had a quieter Game 2 but was integral to Boston’s Game 1 success. White recorded 25 points and five assists in Game 1 while knocking down seven threes. In a separate piece, Weiss explores how White’s shooting is crucial to unlocking the Celtics’ offense. “It’s important because it means usually the shots he takes are because we’re either out in transition, we’ve set really good screens and he has that [look], or there are two-on-ones and we’re making extra passes,” Mazzulla said. “So I think when those guys get more and more shots, it means we’re getting to the different layers of our offense which is important against a team like [Cleveland].

Celtics Notes: Porzingis, Kornet, Free Agency, Pritchard

There’s still no timetable for Kristaps Porzingis to return from the right soleus (calf) strain that knocked him out of the Celtics‘ first-round series, but he’s optimistic that he’ll be back at some point in the playoffs, according to Jared Weiss and Jay King of The Athletic. Addressing reporters Saturday for the first time since the injury, Porzingis said he’s hoping to recover at a “historic rate.”

“It’s something; it’s not nothing. So it will take a little bit of time, for sure,” he said. “But I’m doing everything I can to speed it up because I want to be back out there as soon as possible. But, understanding like, the worst thing would be like probably to re-aggravate that. So being smart.”

Weiss and King talked to orthopedic surgeon Dr. Daniel Kharrazi, who said the Grade 2 strain that Porzingis suffered usually comes with a two- to three-week prognosis for recovery. That means there’s a decent chance Porzingis could be ready for the Eastern Conference finals if Boston gets there.

Porzingis said he’s been aggressive in the rehab process and explained that the injury occurred when he stepped on Tyler Herro‘s foot while chasing a rebound and rolled his left ankle. He began compensating with the other leg and felt the strain.

“You saw my reaction on the court. Then once we got the diagnosis, I calmed down,” Porziņģis said. “It looks like it’s not as bad as I initially thought. Yeah, it is what it is. Nobody wants to get hurt. But at least it’s like not as bad as it could’ve been.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Luke Kornet, Xavier Tillman and Neemias Queta will likely see their roles expanded in the second round with Porzingis unavailable, notes Souichi Terada of MassLive. Kornet, who’s expected to be the first big man off the bench against either Cleveland or Orlando, said Porzingis is helping to inspire his teammates while he’s out of action. “He’s staying engaged and as we’re going through practice, he’s always there paying attention, and also he’s just a great connective type of guy,” Kornet said. “So I feel like his energy in here, in the weight room, kind of remains consistent throughout. Just a great part of being engaged and right now he needs to prepare himself for when he is available and then also just for our group to stay locked in day-to-day.”
  • In a mailbag column, Brian Robb of MassLive projects Kornet to return to the Celtics on a team-friendly contract – probably a multiyear deal – next season. Robb notes that keeping the free agent big man will be a priority to help ease the burden on veteran center/power forward Al Horford.
  • Payton Pritchard often felt like an outsider during the Celtics’ playoff run last season with little playing time available in a veteran backcourt, Weiss adds in a separate story. Pritchard has become a valuable offensive spark off the bench and is relieved that the “dark days” are now behind him. “I think that’s really what it comes down to, all the work, the hours I’ve put in it’s just built confidence,” he said. “Now I just feel like I can go against anybody.”

Celtics Notes: Porzingis, Horford, White, Tatum

Holding a commanding 3-1 lead against an injury-riddled Heat team, the Celtics may not need any more contributions from Kristaps Porzingis to get through the first round of the playoffs. But Boston’s odds of winning a title this spring would take a serious hit without a healthy Porzingis available in future rounds.

After the Celtics announced on Tuesday that Porzingis would miss Game 5 on Wednesday due to a right soleus (calf) strain and Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the big man is expected to miss multiple games, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe clarifies (via Twitter) that no one considers it to be a season-ending injury.

According to Himmelsbach, the Celtics have yet to provide a specific timeline for Porzingis’ recovery and potential return because they want to see how he responds to treatment first.

Appearing on FanDuel’s Run it Back show on Wednesday morning (Twitter video link), Shams Charania of The Athletic said he expects the club to treat the soleus strain like a “week-to-week” injury, suggesting that Porzingis might end up missing just a week or two, though there’s a chance he’ll be sidelined for longer than that.

Here’s more on the Celtics as they prepare for a possible close-out game at home vs. the Heat:

  • For as long as Porzingis is unavailable, Al Horford is expected to move into the starting lineup, with Luke Kornet and Xavier Tillman acting as his primary backups at the five, writes Jay King of The Athletic. As King observes, Horford played 21 of the final 24 minutes in Game 4 following Porzingis’ exit, but that level of workload likely won’t be sustainable for the 37-year-old on a regular basis going forward, so the team will need effective minutes from its reserves.
  • Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Jrue Holiday, and Porzingis combined to shoot just 17-of-47 (36.2%) from the field in Game 4, but Derrick White‘s 38 points on 15-of-26 shooting helped propel the team to victory. In a separate story for The Athletic, King takes a look at White’s career night and details why his teammates want to see him continue to seek out his own offense. “When he’s being aggressive it just opens everything up,” Tatum said. “Whatever they’re trying to take away, maybe for myself, when your teammates are hitting shots and being aggressive and attacking closeouts and making plays, it really makes us very, very hard to guard. You want everybody to be assertive and be aggressive and try to make plays. It just makes us a better team.”
  • As we relayed on Tuesday, Tatum turned an ankle during the fourth quarter of Game 4 when he came down on Bam Adebayo‘s foot while attempting a jump shot after a whistle (Twitter video link). The star forward was ultimately fine, but Horford wasn’t happy about Adebayo contesting Tatum’s shot and getting into his landing area during a dead ball. “I know that we get to playing around and trying to contest shots after fouls and things like that, but there’s levels to contest,” Horford said, per Souichi Terada of MassLive.com. “And if a guy shooting and the play is over with, just kind of let him be. I know he’s trying to compete over there, but I was just mad. I don’t want to see any of my guys get hurt or anything like that. Thankfully, JT is fine, but it could have been bad.”

Celtics’ Porzingis To Miss Game 5 With Strained Calf

4:30pm: Porzingis is expected to miss multiple games, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.


4:03pm: Porzingis has been ruled out for Game 5 due to what the Celtics are calling a right soleus strain (Twitter link via Brian Robb of MassLive.com).

The soleus is the same calf muscle that has sidelined Giannis Antetokounmpo since the final week of the regular season, though it’s unclear whether Porzingis’ strain is as severe as Antetokounmpo’s.


7:40am: The Celtics took full control of their first-round series vs. Miami on Monday by picking up their second consecutive road victory and extending their series lead to 3-1. However, as Chris Herring of ESPN writes, the Game 4 win might have come at a cost, as big man Kristaps Porzingis exited in the second quarter due to a right calf injury and didn’t return.

The Celtics’ starting center is expected to undergo an MRI on Tuesday to assess the severity of the ailment, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who hears from sources that early indications are that Porzingis didn’t suffer an Achilles injury.

Porzingis initially appeared to start limping with about 3:15 left in the second quarter when he stepped on Tyler Herro‘s ankle (video link). However, he turned his left ankle on that play, and the injury was said to affect his right calf, so it may have been unrelated. Less than a minute later, as he caught a pass from Jaylen Brown, Porzingis began limping again and gestured toward the bench that he needed to be subbed out of the game (Twitter video link).

Porzingis has been relatively healthy for the past two seasons, appearing in 57 regular season games in 2023/24 and 65 a year ago. But he has missed significant time due to health problems in the past, having made just 151 total appearances in the four seasons prior to 2022/23. As such, any injury is a concern, though there have been some signals that this isn’t a significant one.

Abby Chin of NBC Sports Boston reported at the start of the second half that Celtics assistant Charles Lee was “cautiously optimistic” that Porzingis would be OK (story via Brian Robb of MassLive). And Porzingis himself tweeted after the win that he “will be good.”

If Porzingis is unable to play in Game 5 on Wednesday, it would mean an increased role for Al Horford, with reserve bigs Luke Kornet, Xavier Tillman, and Neemias Queta moving up on the depth chart. As Jared Weiss of The Athletic notes, Boston gave up a pair of second-round picks at February’s trade deadline for Tillman precisely so the team didn’t find itself shorthanded in the frontcourt in a situation like this.

“Luke, Xavier, Neemie, have to kind of be ready to step up and answer the call,” Horford said after the game, per Weiss. “They’ve been doing a good job of that all year. Obviously, it’s the playoffs now, it’s different, but I have confidence in those guys if they need to come in and bring energy and impact the game.”

The Celtics had another injury scare in the fourth quarter of Game 4, as Jayson Tatum turned an ankle when he came down on Bam Adebayo‘s foot while attempting a jump shot after a whistle (Twitter video link). However, Tatum was able to walk it off and finish the game — he’ll presumably be good to go for Game 5.

Celtics Notes: Heat Rivalry, Brown, Porzingis, Kornet, Hauser

The Celtics got a very familiar playoff opponent when the Heat defeated Chicago Friday night, writes Khari Thompson of The Boston Globe. The teams have faced each other in three of the past four Eastern Conference finals, with Miami winning last year and in 2020 and Boston prevailing in 2022. With all the history between the two organizations, Jaylen Brown believed another meeting was inevitable.

“I knew it was going to be Miami. I knew it from a few weeks back,” Brown said. “Just coming from last year to this year, it just makes sense, so we’re looking forward to it. It should be a great challenge. Miami is a tough team, well coached, they play hard, and they’re physical. All the things that we need to emphasize. So it should be fun.”

Kristaps Porzingis, who was acquired in a trade last summer, is looking forward to his first experience with the Celtics-Heat rivalry, Thompson adds. Boston won all three regular season matchups, but Porzingis understands that Miami is dangerous because of how its players approach the play0ffs.

“We have to expect them to be ultra-aggressive,” he said. “Ultra-handsy and trying to do all the little dirty things they can. Not dirty things, but to mess up the game a little bit to get some advantages. And, yeah, we have to be ready for that. It’s going to be a war.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Luke Kornet will miss Sunday’s opener with a strained right calf, according to Souichi Terada of MassLive. The backup big man has been part of the rotation, but Terada notes that the Celtics have other options due to a midseason trade for Xavier Tillman and the recent conversion of Neemias Queta‘s two-way contract. No explanation was provided for when or how Kornet was injured.
  • With Sam Hauser developing into a dangerous three-point weapon off the Celtics’ bench, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe looks back at the night the sharpshooter decided to join the organization. Moments after the 2021 draft ended, Hauser got two-way contract offers from the Celtics and Timberwolves, along with an opportunity to join the Heat’s Summer League team and compete for a two-way deal. All three teams wanted an answer right away so they could pursue other players if they didn’t land Hauser. “When I got off the phone, my dad was like, ‘Well, why don’t you just sleep on it?’” Hauser said. “And I told him, ‘We’ve got 10 minutes.’ So we all just kind of sat down and talked about the options and came to the conclusion that Boston was probably the best spot for me.”
  • Jared Weiss and Jay King of The Athletic talked to scouts and coaches about the best strategies for countering the Celtics’ defense.