Boston Celtics

Porzingis confirms he'll need surgery after gritty Game 5 effort

The Celtics big man is expected to have a months-long recovery process.

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After suffering a left leg injury in Game 2 of the 2024 NBA Finals, Kristaps Porzingis joked he'd "die out there" if it meant returning to the court to help his Boston Celtics win a title.

He wasn't exaggerating by much.

In the aftermath of the Celtics' championship-clinching Game 5 victory over the Dallas Mavericks at TD Garden on Monday night, Porzingis revealed to ESPN's Tim Bontemps he'll need surgery on his left leg and likely will miss "a few months."

The official term of Porzingis' injury, which the team described as "rare" and head coach Joe Mazzulla deemed "serious" -- is a "torn medial retinaculum allowing dislocation of the posterior tibialis tendon," which essentially meant Porzingis had a very unstable ankle for the remainder of the series.

The 7-foot-2 big man was ruled out for Game 3 and was available but didn't play in the Celtics' blowout Game 4 loss. Many assumed he'd only play limited minutes on an emergency basis in Game 5, but there was Porzingis checking in midway through the first quarter and sparking a thunderous ovation from the Garden crowd.

Porzingis wasn't dominant by any means -- he finished with five points on 2-of-4 shooting with a made 3-pointer and a dunk in 16 minutes of action -- but his mere presence was inspiring considering the extent of his injury.

"I think something could have happened, for sure, especially compensating now on the other leg now, which I just came back from," Porzingis told Bontemps, referencing the right calf injury that sidelined him for 10 games earlier in the postseason.

"There was definitely some added risk, but I didn't care. I was like, 'I want to give everything I can and then fix it after if I need to.'"

Porzingis' health obviously is worth monitoring in the coming months, and it remains to be seen if he'll be ready for the start of the 2024-25 season. But his sacrifice to help Boston win Banner 18 can't be understated -- Porzingis' injury almost certainly means he won't compete for his native Latvia in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris after making the difficult decision last summer not to suit up for Latvia in the 2023 FIBA World Cup while prioritizing his health for the Celtics.

Simply put, Porzingis prioritized an NBA championship over essentially everything else this season, and he was rewarded with a legacy-defining title.

"From day one I said, 'I will give everything I can to this team to win a championship,'" Porzingis told NBC Sports Boston's Eddie House and Brian Scalabrine after the game. "... I tried to give everything and live by that and live by my words of like, 'I will die out there.'

"Tonight, obviously I was not even close to being 100 percent, but I gave what I could to the team, and we got the job done."

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