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Celtics’ Kristaps Porzingis on track to return for Game 1 of the Finals

Celtics

“I feel better every day,” Porzingis told reporters Tuesday.

Kristaps Porzingis remained involved with the Celtics while recovering from a calf strain.

Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis said he plans to play Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday.

Porzingis spoke to the media Tuesday for the first time since leaving Game 4 of the first-round series against Miami with a calf strain on April 29.

“I feel better every day,” he said. “It’s been a long process, I’m not going to lie. It’s been difficult to stay away, obviously, but I’ve tried to stay as engaged as possible with the team, to be with the team, to do my job and to be with the team.

“We are here now and I feel much better. I’ve put in a lot of hours to get to this point and I can’t wait to take action on the field.

Coach Joe Mazzulla said Porzingis was on track for a Game 1 return, while adding the Celtics would monitor his feelings over the coming days. Although Porzingis missed more than a month, Mazzulla doesn’t expect much difficulty getting him back into the lineup.

“He’s been playing basketball for about 30 years and he’s played in intense situations his whole life, so I don’t think it’s going to be much of an issue,” Mazzulla said. “Obviously you can’t simulate the speed and intensity of the game, which I think just comes with a little bit of repetition.

“KP is a great player. I think just because you’ve been away for a month doesn’t mean you have to relearn how to play basketball.

“He did a lot of great things during his career. He’s done a lot of great things for us this season on both ends of the floor with physicality and intensity, and I expect him to pick up where he left off.

“Obviously there will be a little rust, but don’t worry because of the work he’s put in and what he’s done in his career and what he’s done this season for us.”

The Celtics are 10-1 without Porzingis in the postseason. Although it was difficult to be away, Porzingis said he was encouraged by how his teammates coped without him.

“I think it says a lot about the whole roster,” he said. “Obviously, throughout the season, we had already experienced certain things. The guys were out, the lineups were changing and we kind of prepared for that.

“But seeing the level that Al (Horford) was playing at and other guys that stepped up and got minutes, it just shows that the work that they put in throughout the season is paying off and it’s paying off at the most important moment.

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