Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis returns to play for Game 5 of NBA Finals against Mavericks

BOSTON (AP) — Kristaps Porzingis returned for the Boston Celtics just in time to help them win an NBA championship.

The 7-foot-2 Latvian came back on Monday night after missing the previous two games, scoring five points with one rebound in 16 minutes to help the Celtics beat the Mavericks 106-88 in Game 5 and win their 18th NBA title.

“I gave everything I could. I gave everything I could,” he said. “And, man, it feels great to be a champion.”

Porzingis missed Game 3 with a dislocated tendon in his left ankle. He was cleared to play a limited role in Game 4, but never took off his warmups during Boston’s 122-84 loss in Dallas.

He had been listed as questionable Monday morning before going through an on-court workout about 2 1/2 hours before tipoff. The workout included shooting, some light-contact post work and lateral movement drills.

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla told reporters before Monday’s game that Porzingis would be available and said, “We expect to see him tonight.” Porzingis drew a big cheer when he got off the Boston bench to check into the game with 6:49 left in the first quarter.

He missed his first shot, a 3-point attempt, then made one of two free throws. He added a pair of baskets, including a fourth-quarter dunk that gave Boston a 21-point lead — and finished 2 for 4 from the floor.

“Tonight was the night,” he said. “I was like, ‘Listen, I’m going to give it everything I have.’ And I’m just super happy to be a part of this and give something to the team.”

The Celtics have said that his tendon issue is unrelated to the calf strain Porzingis sustained April 29 in the first round against Miami that led to him missing 10 games.

“It was something torn. And then my tendon is just out of place. And it pretty much hurts on every step. Like, I would take a walk in Dallas, and my leg would swell up,” he said. “I was like, I don’t know how I’m going to play, if I’m going to play. But my mindset was always, I’m going to try to find a way how I can manage this.

“And somehow I got it going for this game. A lot of it was for sure like the adrenaline from just playing at the Garden and playing in front of our fans and having that opportunity to close it out. And, man, I got it going.”

Porzingis averaged 13.5 points and 5.0 rebounds in his first six games this postseason, including 20 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots in Game 1 against Dallas.


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