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NBA Playoffs

Kristaps Porzingis could be latest NBA star to be sidelined during playoffs

Injuries, unfortunately, are just as much as part of the NBA playoffs as great performances by All-Stars.

The 2024 NBA playoffs reflect that — from Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo’s absence to Minnesota Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards’ breakout performance.

While it’s great for the NBA to have stars shining, it’s rotten that some of the league's best players are missing games at this time of the season.

There is a particular sting this season, and now the Boston Celtics, who had the league’s best regular-season record at 64-18, will find out Tuesday how serious the injury forward-center Kristaps Porzingis sustained Monday is. “Thanks for the support, will be good,” Porzingis posted on social media late Monday night.

Porzingis who has a history of injuries, favored his left leg and exited the game with 2:27 left in the second quarter. He didn’t return in Celtics’ 102-88 Game 4 victory, which gave them a 3-1 series lead over the Miami Heat. The short-term focus on is on Porzingis, a major factor in the Celtics’ success. He will have a scan Tuesday to determine the extent of the issue.

Let’s take a look at how injuries have impacted the playoffs:

Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard

The Bucks’ championship aspirations dwindle with each game. That might not be the case had Antetokounmpo been healthy. He hasn’t played against the Indiana Pacers because of strained left calf. Teammate Damian Lillard missed Game 4 with right Achilles tendinitis.

Both are listed as doubtful for Game 5 with the Pacers up 3-1. No Giannis. No Dame. Not good for the Bucks.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has had to watch the Bucks fall behind the Pacers in their first-round playoff series from the bench.

Miami’s Jimmy Butler

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler sprained the MCL in his right knee in a play-in game against Philadelphia and hasn’t played in the Heat’s first-round series against Boston. Miami guard Terry Rozier (neck spasms) hasn’t played since April 9 in the regular season. Miami was the No. 8 seed, but Butler would have made it more difficult for the Celtics.

New Orleans’ Zion Williamson

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson strained his left hamstring in a play-in tournament game against the Los Angeles Lakers and did not play in New Orleans’ first-round series loss against the Oklahoma City Thunder. It would've been a difficult series for the Pelicans to win with Williamson, but they have a have better chance of making it a closer series with him.

Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard missed Game 4 against the Dallas Mavericks with right knee inflammation and his status for Game 5 is undetermined. The Clippers managed to win Game 4 and tie the series with Dallas, but how far can the Clippers go without Leonard or with Leonard considerably less than 100%.

Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid returned from a corrective procedure on his left knee at the end of the regular season and is recovering from that. It’s clear he’s not 100% even if it’s just from a conditioning standpoint as the Sixers try to play him as many minutes as possible against New York. Embiid is also dealing with Bell’s palsy, a condition he was diagnosed as the postseason began.

Minnesota’s Chris Finch

OK, he’s the Timberwolves coach. But he ruptured the patellar tendon in his right knee in a collision with Minnesota guard Mike Conley who was fouled by Phoenix’s Devin Booker in Sunday’s game. He’s an important part of the Timberwolves’ success, and for a coach who likes to roam the sideline while coaching, Finch will have to adjust to ensure his players know what play-calls he’s making and instruction he’s giving.

Other injuries

Don’t forget, New York is without Julius Randle (right shoulder) and Indiana is without Bennedict Mathurin (right shoulder). Both had season-ending surgery before the playoffs so their absence was expected. However, it doesn’t make it any less disappointing that they are not on the court.

Dallas’ Tim Hardaway Jr. (sprained right ankle) has missed the past two games, New York’s Mitchell Robinson (sprained left ankle) missed Game 4, and Phoenix’s Grayson Allen missed the final two games of the Timberwolves series.

The Knicks’ Bojan Bogdanovic missed most of Game 4 and has been ruled out for Tuesday’s Game 5 with a bruised left foot.

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