Why Celtics Legends Think Kristaps Porzingis Is X-Factor In NBA Finals

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The Celtics and Mavericks will battle for the NBA championship beginning Thursday night at TD Garden.

Boston will more than likely get Kristaps Porzingis back after the Celtics big man went down with a right soleus strain in Game 4 of the opening round against the Miami Heat. Porzingis returned to practice on Satruday.

Celtics legends Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett discussed Porzingis’s impact in Boston on the “The Ticket & The Truth” podcast.

“I think for him, the beauty is he doesn’t have to be the best player,” Pierce said. “Just his presence alone on the defensive end, his height, blocked shots, his shooting ability. I know he’s not going to be full 100% (healthy). His presence is everything to unlock that offense and defense.”

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In 57 games for the Celtics this season, Porzingis averaged 20.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game while playing just over 29 minutes a game.

“I’m pretty sure he’s getting shots up and still in a rhythm,” Garnett said. “It’ll just be about his durability and how long you can have him out there. But, now you get a piece like that back … this is the Celtics window right here.”

Even if Porzingis can’t give Boston as many minutes as he had during the regular season, Al Horford stepped up in his absence and provided the Celtics with valuable play. The 17-year veteran has averaged 30 minutes a game while collecting 7.3 rebounds and adding 9.9 points.

With stars like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Porzingis, Jrue Holiday and Derrick White, Horford is far from the Celtics’ best player, but his role on and off the court has been immeasurable in the quest to capture his first title and the team’s 18th championship.

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The NBA Finals begin at TD Garden on Thursday night with tip-off scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET.

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