Boston Celtics

How Jaylen Brown is helping Porzingis as Celtics star nears return

Jaylen Brown wants his teammate to hit the ground running in this series.

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The Boston Celtics are optimistic that Kristaps Porzingis can return from his calf injury as soon as Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

And while plenty will be made of Porzingis' physical health when he steps back on the court, there's also the mental challenge of being thrown into a competitive series after missing nearly a month of game action.

That's where Jaylen Brown is trying to help his close friend and teammate.

In a 1-on-1 with NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chin, Brown said he's been in constant communication with Porzingis -- who lives in the same building as Brown and has bonded with the All-Star wing this season -- over the past several weeks to keep his spirits up and keep him engaged.

"Just talking to him, just checking in with him every day," Brown told Chin of Porzingis. "Make (it) so he still feels a part of what's going on and he can feel the energy, the enthusiasm, because we want him to come back and feel like he hasn't missed a step."

Porzingis has remained close to the team since suffering the injury in Game 4 of Boston's first-round series against the Miami Heat on April 29. He's done some light on-court work at team shootarounds and was seen riding the exercise bike at the Celtics' practice Sunday ahead of Game 1. But Brown has made an extra point to talk strategy with Porzingis so the big man can seamlessly jump back into game action whenever he gets the green light.

"Just sharing your thoughts, what you see in the game, how it feels out there, so he can get a better idea in his brain (of) what he needs to prepare for and how he can come back and make an instant impact," Brown added.

The Celtics have gone 6-1 in the playoffs since Porzingis went down, but they certainly could use him back in the lineup. Veteran big man Al Horford played 40 minutes in Boston's Game 1 overtime win, and the Pacers often hunted him on switches defensively. The 7-foot-2 Porzingis also would provide a jolt of offense to help the Celtics keep pace with Indiana's high-octane attack.

If Porzingis is able to return in this series and make an impact right away, perhaps he'll have his close friend to thank.

Check out Brown's full interview with Abby Chin in the video below.

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