NBA Finals: Celtics rule out Kristaps Porzingis for Game 3

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 09: Kristaps Porzingis #8 of the Boston Celtics looks on during the first quarter against the Dallas Mavericks in Game Two of the 2024 NBA Finals at TD Garden on June 09, 2024 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Kristaps Porzingis has become the NBA Finals' largest remaining X-factor. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

If the Boston Celtics want to take a 3-0 lead in the NBA Finals, they'll have to do it without Kristaps Porzingis.

The Celtics ruled Porzingis out for Game 3 against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday due to a left leg injury, described as a left posterior tibialis dislocation.

Porzingis sustained the injury in the Celtics' Game 2 win, when a box-out collision with Mavericks center Dereck Lively II left him visibly limping down the court. He moved gingerly for the rest of the game and did not appear in the game's final four minutes.

Porzingis was announced Tuesday to be day-to-day, with a questionable designation for Game 3. At that point, the Celtics described the injury with an even more complicated name of "a torn medial retinaculum allowing dislocation of the posterior tibialis tendon in his left leg." The injury is said to be separate from the calf injury that kept him out for the previous two rounds of the playoffs.

Such injuries are rare, with little precedent to determine when Porzingis might be able to return. The big man expressed optimism that he wouldn't have to miss time but is obviously now going another route.

"I'm optimistic," Porziņģis said Tuesday in Dallas. "As I said, I will do everything I can to be out there tomorrow. ... Nothing's going to stop me, unless I'm told I'm not allowed to play. That's the only reason I would not be out there, but tomorrow we'll see."

Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla told reporters Wednesday that Porzingis remains day-to-day, but the medical team decided his testing wasn't good enough to justify playing him in Game 3.

Porzingis' return suddenly looms large in a series some thought was basically over after two games. The Celtics won Games 1 and 2 convincingly at home, and Porzingis played a massive role in that while coming off the bench.

The Celtics won those games by a combined margin of 25 points, and Porzingis was a plus-25 in those games. Dallas has played Boston to a draw in the non-Porzingis minutes, however, and now gets a chance to bounce back at home.