Kristaps Porzingis injury update: When will Boston big man return to Conference Finals?

The Boston Celtics have been the favorites to win the NBA Finals for quite some time. Everyone expects them to take down the Indiana Pacers and advance to the NBA Finals at the very least. Still, their performance in Game 1 has some Celtics fans shaking in their boots. It took a huge three-pointer from Jaylen Brown to force overtime in order to win.

Obviously, the absence of big man Kristaps Porzingis has put a lid on the Celtics' potential, so while being up 1-0 in the series is a huge advantage, as long as Porzingis is out, the team can't rest easy. Porzingis' calf injury has kept him off the court since the first round against Miami, and the immediate future doesn't look too bright.

Here is the latest news regarding Porzingis' injury.

Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (8) warms-up before game three of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs against the Miami Heat at Kaseya Center.
Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (8) warms-up before game three of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs against the Miami Heat at Kaseya Center.

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Kristaps Porzingis injury update

We received an update on Kristaps Porzingis and his lingering calf injury on Sunday. The Celtics big man is now ruled out for Game 4 on Monday. With the Celtics up 3-0 on the series, the game against the Pacers could be a decisive on in the series.

A Game 4 return seems likely right now

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday that Porzingis could make his return as early as Game 4. That's the timeline he offered. Still, despite that report, Wojnarowski seemed very skeptical of such an early return. He noted, "The Celtics won't rush Porzingis back, and they want to continue to be conservative in his recovery, but sources say he is inching closer to a return."

Could Porzingis rush back if the Celtics go down in series?

That doesn't appear to be the case. The Celtics have made it very apparent that they do not want to rush Porzingis back until he is fully healthy. With that said though, what about the opposite scenario? Will the Celtics keep Porzingis off the court if they are up big in the series?

That does not seem to be the case either. Celtics insider Chris Forsberg says that there would be value in having Porzingis play in a game or two even if Boston is up big. He noted, "If you're telling me he's healthy enough to go, I probably do want to see him at the end of the series, if [for] nothing else than to shake rust and get ready for [the NBA Finals], potentially if you're lucky enough to be going ahead."

How have the Celtics done without Porzingis?

In the playoffs? Just fine. The team blazed through the first two rounds in five games each and have won the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals. In the regular season though, the Celtics performed...arguably better. They were 21-4 this season without Porzingis. The Celtics were also great offensively without Porzingis averaging 121.6 points per game without their big man. That's a full point more than their season average (120.6).

All of this isn't to say that the Celtics are better off without Porzingis. There's a reason they want him back on the court. He led the team in field goal percentage this season (51.6%) and led the team in blocks per game (1.9) while scoring the third-most points per game (20.1). That said, it's clear the Celtics don't need Porzingis on the court in order to win the NBA Finals. It might actually serve the Celtics well to keep Porzingis off the court until they absolutely need him. Funny enough, that seems to be the exact strategy the team is employing with him.

What is the schedule for the rest of the Eastern Conference Finals?

*All times Eastern

Game 1: Celtics 133, Pacers 128 (OT)

Game 2: Thursday at Boston, 8 p.m., ESPN

Game 3: Saturday at Indiana, 8:30 p.m., ABC

Game 4: Monday, May 27 at Indiana, 8 p.m., ESPN/ESPN2

Game 5 (if necessary): Wednesday, May 29 at Boston, 8 p.m., ESPN

Game 6 (if necessary): Friday, May 31 at Indiana, 8 p.m., ESPN

Game 7 (if necessary): Sunday, June 2 at Boston, 8 p.m., ESPN

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Kristaps Porzingis injury update: Latest on Celtics star's injury