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What should we expect from Porzingis in Game 1? NBA insider weighs in

What should we expect from Porzingis in Game 1? NBA insider weighs in originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics will get a key player back in the lineup Thursday night for Game 1 of the 2024 NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks.

Star center Kristaps Porzingis will make his return after missing the previous 10 playoff games due to a right calf strain injury suffered April 29, which was Game 4 of Boston's first-round series versus the Miami Heat.

What should we expect from Porzingis in Game 1? How close is he to being 100 percent healthy?

Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix gave his take Wednesday night on NBC Sports Boston's Boston Sports Tonight.

"I think he's 100 percent, full go," Mannix said, as seen in the video player above. "He's not on the injury report. Look, is there going to be some rust after five weeks off? Maybe. I don't know how many scrimmages he's gone through full speed. Is he going to be the guy (he was) right before he left? Maybe not. ... As far as health goes, I believe he is 100 percent. I believe he'll be in the starting lineup, and I believe he'll be the exact same Porzingis that we've seen all season."

Porzingis being close to 100 percent would be a massive boost for the Celtics. They went 9-1 without him over the last month, but they're a different (and better) team when he's on the court.

He adds another dimension to the group offensively with his ability to score from the low post and stretch the floor with good 3-point shooting. Porzingis is an excellent defensive player, too, due to his rebounding ability and shot blocking. He's an imposing figure in the paint at 7-foot-2.

The Celtics played the Mavs at home on March 1 after Dallas had made its trade deadline upgrades, and they won by 28 thanks in large part to Porzingis. He scored 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting in just 29 minutes.

If Porzingis makes anywhere near that kind of impact in the Finals, the Celtics will be in pretty good shape.