BOSTON (WHDH) - After cruising through the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Celtics may enter the NBA Finals even stronger thanks to the possible return of Kristaps Porzingis. 

Porzingis has been off the court for more than a month due to a calf injury he suffered during Boston’s playoff series against the Miami Heat. But despite the lengthy layoff, Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said he thinks his third-leading regular season scorer will be able to easily reenter the lineup. 

“You use him effectively because he is a great player and he’s done a lot of great things for us,” Mazzulla said. “When KP is at his best, he’s been tremendous for us and we expect that from him and we know he’ll give that to us.” 

“KP is one of our best scorers,” said Celtics guard Jrue Holiday. “He’s one of our best rim protectors and I feel like we’re all mature enough to get back in the groove or have him fit right back in whenever he comes back.”

Holiday said the team “can’t wait” for Porzingis to return.

Porzingis came to Boston from Washington in an offseason blockbuster trade last year.  After fitting in seamlessly with the Celtics, he now has a chance to prove he is what the team needs to win its first championship since 2008. 

“I give KP a lot of credit,” said Boston forward Jayson Tatum. “…A lot of big guys may be stuck in their ways, doing what makes them comfortable. But he got outside his comfort zone a little bit and made us a better team.”

The Celtics are scheduled to open the Finals at home against the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday.

Before Thursday, state and local officials are scheduled to join Celtics team personnel on Tuesday afternoon to discuss local preparations for the championship series. 

Last in action on Monday of last week when they completed their sweep of the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals, Celtics players have said they are eager to hit the parquet for Game 1.

“I wish it did start a little bit earlier, so we could get after it,” Tatum said earlier this week.

While anxious to play, players are also working to make the best of their time off as they prepare for the Mavericks and their star pairing of Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic. 

“Anything could be good or bad for you depending upon how you use it,” Mazzulla said last week. “It just goes into how you use it.” 

“We’re weaponizing our time right now,” Mazzulla said.

(Copyright (c) 2024 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox