Payton Pritchard Offers Kristaps Porzingis Update Before Game 4

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The Celtics won’t have Kristaps Porzingis for Game 4 against the Pacers on Sunday night, a closeout situation for Boston, however, the 7-foot-2 center has remained working toward a return.

Celtics guard Payton Pritchard, who has watched Porzingis work to overcome a right soleus strain, feels optimistic about where the 28-year-old stands in his recovery. Porzingis hasn’t played since the first round of the playoffs — Sunday will mark his 10th consecutive absence — and with a trip to the NBA Finals (favorably) in the cards for Boston, the team’s ready to welcome him back.

“He looked really good,” Pritchard told Abby Chin of NBC Sports Boston hours ahead of the 8 p.m. ET scheduled tip-off. “I think he’ll be ready shortly.”

Boston confirmed Porzingis would be a no-go for Game 4, despite previous reports suggesting that the targeted return date was Monday.

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Should the Celtics punch their ticket to the finals — either against the Minnesota Timberwolves or Dallas Mavericks — Porzingis will have not played a playoff game since April 29. Porzingis was averaging 12.3 points, five rebounds and a team-leading 1.5 blocks this postseason.

Earning a spot in the Finals courtesy of a four-game sweep isn’t something the Celtics expect to fall on their laps. Boston found out what Indiana, without star Tyrese Haliburton, was made of in Game 3. Pacers guard Andrew Nembhard had a breakout postseason performance, scoring a career-high 32 points on 12-for-21 shooting, while the Celtics needed to overcome an 18-point third-quarter deficit to come away with a commanding 3-0 lead.

“They’re gonna come out really aggressive so it’s gonna be a hard fight tonight, 48 minutes so try to pull this one out,” Pritchard told reporters after shootaround, per CLNS Media. “… I think anybody that got their back against the wall like that they gonna play desperate so we just gotta match that intensity.”

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