New York Knicks, Boston Celtics big player Kristaps Porzingis’s previous team, will be his opponents on Friday night when he makes his comeback to action after missing the previous four games due to a left calf strain. As a result of an upgrade from probable to available, the Celtics have cleared the way for the much-anticipated return of Porzingis.
The 7’3″ forward with limitless shooting range, Kristaps Porzingis, will be an instant asset to the 26-13 Boston Celtics, who are currently in second place in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics have won three of their last four games without the All-Star big, but they will be missing his two-way influence and spacing against the tenacious 19-19 Knicks.
Porzingis Eager to Face Former Team for the First Time This Season
This is the second meeting between the Knicks and the Celtics this season, and Porzingis will get his first opportunity to face off against his previous squad on Friday night. The big man from Latvia was chosen with the fourth overall choice in the 2015 NBA Draft and spent the first three seasons in New York.
After being traded from the Knicks to the Mavericks in 2019, Porzingis will have the chance to show New York what they lost while helping the Mavericks maintain their lead in the Eastern Conference. Porzingis has shot 58% from the field and 50% from three-point range in three previous games against his own organization, averaging 29.7 points per game.
A motivated Porzingis will try to repeat those impressive figures against his old team as the Knicks make their first season visit to Boston. With teammates like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum on his side, he has a great chance to get back at the team that traded him after only 3.5 seasons and help the Celtics continue their winning streak.
Celtics Offense and Rebounding Should See Boost with Porzingis Back
The return of Porzingis should provide the Celtics a significant boost on offense and defense, though they still managed to win without their highly-touted summer acquisition. This season, the 27-year-old has averaged 18.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game while shooting 54.7% from the field.
Porzingis, who starts at center for the Celtics, is a tremendous asset because of the floor spacing he creates and his ability to help the defense extend to the 3-point line.
His 32.4% three-point shooting on 5.6 attempts per game this season has been a game-changer, pushing big men to leave the paint and creating opportunities for players like Tatum and Brown to drive the lane.
In addition to his shooting ability from beyond the arc, Porzingis’s height and skill on the offensive boards create more scoring chances for his team. Without him, the Celtics’ offensive rebound rate—46.8%—would be in the 23rd spot in the league.
The already average defense of the Knicks will be considerably more tested if they allow more second-chance points.
KP Anchors Celtics Defense Alongside Robert Williams
Even though Porzingis is well-known for his attacking versatility, he is most effective when he is on defense. He was instrumental in the Celtics’ ascent to third place in the league in defensive rating before he hurt his calf. They allowed only 110 points per 100 possessions.
Using his enormous wingspan to discourage and reject paint attempts, Porzingis excels as a rim protector. Players’ shooting drops by more than 7% while Porzingis is on the court, as seen in Giannis Antetokounmpo’s dismal 3–17 performance against him earlier in the season.
Since Al Horford has started the last four games, he will be able to move back to the bench unit when Porzingis returns. Even if the veteran big man did a fine job filling in, the addition of Porzingis strengthens Boston’s defense by combining him with Robert Williams III.
If Porzingis’s calf injury doesn’t hinder him, he and Williams might be a formidable defensive frontcourt combo in the NBA. When the playoffs roll around, their length and natural rim-protecting instincts might give rival offenses a run for their money.
No Minutes Restriction for Porzingis In Return Game vs. Knicks
With championship dreams in mind, even a little injury might be a worry for a Boston team aiming to secure the top seed in the East. The most recent reports, however, indicate that Porzingis will not be limited in minutes versus New York due to his left calf strain, and that he has fully recovered.
Porzingis should continue to see playing time in head coach Joe Mazzulla’s rotation unless the big man has any pregame issues. With the national spotlight and revenge storyline surrounding the Knicks, Porzingis’s average minutes played each game before his injury was a bit higher at 31.5.
Porzingis Figures to Boost Boston in Playoff Positioning Battle Out East
With Jayson Tatum in peak form this season, the Celtics should be able to maintain their lead in the standings going into the second half of the season. Nevertheless, Philadelphia and Milwaukee are still in close pursuit, behind by only three and one-half games, respectively, going into Friday’s schedule.
For the Bruins to have a shot at winning the championship, they need to play their home games in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Defeating the reigning champion Bucks and the ravenous Sixers will depend heavily on Porzingis’ availability night in and night out.
When healthy, Porzingis adds another layer of difficulty to the Celtics’ four games in April and May, when they will be facing up against a talented squad that also includes Brown, Marcus Smart, and Tatum.
Porzingis has gotten off to a great start in demonstrating his worth to the Celtics in high-pressure situations if he can maintain his 29.7 point per game average against the Nets since being moved.