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How a Former Wizard’s Health Could Decide Who Wins the Finals

Kristaps Porzingis' health will be crucial for the Celtics' finals chances.

The NBA Finals are about to begin, and they’re so many storylines to pay attention to. There’s Kyrie Irving facing the Celtics, Jason Kidd having been a part of the Nets trading away the picks that became Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, and so much more. However, in an ironic twist, one of the league’s most currently irrelevant teams traded a player to the Celtics whose injury status could determine the winner of the 2024 NBA Finals. That player is Kristaps Porzingis, and his health could decide the 2024 NBA Finals.

How a Former Wizard’s Health Could Decide Who Wins the NBA Finals

The 7’3″ Porzingis is 28 years old, and was first drafted in 2015 by the Knicks. While fans initially hated the pick, Porzingis grew on them, with his great shot blocking and ability to stretch the floor by knocking down threes. After an injury in 2018 where he tore his ACL and missed the whole season, he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks…the very team that he will be playing in the NBA Finals.

Porzingis’ Health and Role in Dallas

Porzingis pairing with Luka Doncic wasn’t ideal in Dallas. In two and a half seasons, his numbers blossomed with the team. However, his role in the half-court offense confined his play, as the team ran through Luka. He also faced injuries, such as a knee injury throughout early 2020, and a back injury in 2021. Ultimately, he was traded to the Wizards at the 2022 trade deadline.

One storyline leading up to this year’s finals has been the history of Doncic and Porzingis. Some fans have wondered if there will be any ill-will on the court between them, and players such as Chandler Parsons have spoken to this theory. However, Doncic later disputed that claim.

With the Wizards, Porzingis went back to looking like his pre-injury self. He was knocking down three-pointers at an impressive clip, and blocking shots at a high rate. However, the Wizards’ timeline and Porzingis’ timeline didn’t fit with each other. The Wizards weren’t serious playoff contenders and were preparing a rebuild. Meanwhile, Porzingis was in his prime, and ready to play competitive, meaningful basketball. So, Washington shipped him to Boston, where he is now.

Porzingis’ Health and Role

Porzingis, along with Jrue Holiday, is one of two Celtics additions that are key to their success in this year’s playoffs. He anchors the paint for the league’s second-best defense and is averaging 1.9 blocks per game. Every Celtics player who contributed to the team’s defense can also shoot the three very well, and Porzingis is no exception. He’s shooting 37.5% from three this season and is no small part of the Celtics’ success.

Now, with the Larry O’Brien trophy in sight, Porzingis’ return is important and imminent. The injury he’s currently dealing with is a calf strain. He hasn’t played since April 29th, and because the team’s been doing so well, they haven’t needed to rush him back into action. It’s important that he’s stayed on his own plan for recovering, as evidenced by what happened to other players in similar situations. The Golden State Warriors tried to rush Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson in the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors…and then both of them ended up having even worse injuries that rendered them out for the rest of the season.

The Last Word

It didn’t matter in previous rounds, but now, Porzingis’ health is crucial for the Celtics. The Mavericks will be the best team that the Celtics have played in this year’s playoffs. After all, look at the teams that they played: the Heat without Jimmy Butler, the Cavaliers without Donovan Mitchell, and the Pacers without Tyrese Haliburton. But, if they have Porzingis, then the Celtics have a very high chance of becoming 2024 NBA champions.

Ironically, it is Porzingis’ health that could decide the 2024 NBA Finals.


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