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What will Celtics do at center vs. Pacers in Porzingis' absence?

What will Celtics do at center vs. Pacers in Porzingis' absence? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics won't have center Kristaps Porzingis to begin their Eastern Conference Finals series versus the Indiana Pacers.

The team officially ruled out Porzingis for Game 1 on Tuesday night at TD Garden. The veteran center suffered a right calf injury against the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the first round and hasn't played since.

On a new episode of NBC Sports Boston's Celtics Talk Podcast, Chris Forsberg and Brian Scalabrine discussed how the team should handle Porzingis' workload whenever he returns, and which players could see minutes at center against the Pacers in his absence.

"I don't know what they're going to do (with Porzingis). Those guys know a lot more than I do. Everyone's ego aside, I think that Porzingis should ease back into this by playing a little bit of time," Scalabrine said. "Let him get his footing, do it slowly, and that allows Al Horford to get more rest."

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If Porzingis isn't able to play much in this series, who could get playing time at center besides Horford?

Luke Kornet has given the C's some good minutes in that spot all season. Xavier Tillman has played in just three of Boston's 10 playoff games so far. Maybe he could be in the mix this series. Tillman was a real difference-maker for the Memphis Grizzlies in their first-round series versus the Los Angeles Lakers last season.

One player who Scalabrine and Forsberg both think could see an uptick in minutes for the Celtics is former Pacers forward Oshae Brissett.

"This might be crazy, but Brissett might play in this series," Scalabrine said. "He matches up really well against them, so we'll see."

Forsberg added: "It's an interesting theory. I always go back to the motivation factor, he was up for those games against Indy. I'd have to check the lineup data, but it does seem like they found a little something with him in there, he was almost a center in those lineups.

"It feels like a series you can get away with going small. It just comes down to whether Joe Mazzulla trusts him. Offensively, his finishing just hasn't been there, but I agree, I think it's a lineup you've got to at least try in the early stages. Maybe they should have thrown it out there at the end of the last round, but they have options if Porzingis isn't out there to start the series."

The Pacers don't have a ton of size. The only player on their roster who gets significant minutes and is listed above 6-foot-9 is Myles Turner. The 6-foot-11 power forward isn't a dominant low-post scorer, though, and he attempts 4.2 3-pointers per game.

The Celtics definitely could get away with playing two undersized power forwards in Tillman and Brissett in this series. The real question is whether these guys can give the Celtics anything offensively. The Pacers are the highest-scoring team in the playoffs, and the Celtics will need to match that firepower.

Also in this episode:

  • What are Scal’s thoughts on the Pacers?

  • The impact of Aaron Nesmith

  • A look at the odds