How Kristaps Porzingis made strong defensive impact in Celtics' first win

How Kristaps Porzingis made strong defensive impact in Celtics' first win originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Kristaps Porzingis had a great first game as a Boston Celtics player Wednesday, and while his scoring output (30 points) and clutch 3-point shot late in the fourth quarter will grab most of the headlines, his excellent defense arguably made just as big of an impact in the 108-104 win.

Knicks players shot 6-for-25 (24 percent) when defended by Porzingis, according to the NBA's player tracking data.

RJ Barrett, Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson shot a combined 1-for-13 versus Porzingis. Knicks point guard Jalen Brunson (4-for-9 shooting) was the only player who had success against Porzingis, but most of those possessions came off switches.

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"Being close to the rim, I'm trying to help my teammates as much as I can," Porzingis said in his postgame press conference.

"Obviously it's going to depend on the matchups and things like that, but I feel like the way the coaching staff is using me on defense is paying off and I'm able to be as effective as possible. I try to be active on the glass, knowing Robinson and Hartenstein can really rebound."

Porzingis grabbed eight rebounds and also blocked four shots, including this swat on a Barrett drive in the third quarter.

The Celtics got possession of the ball on all four of Porzingis' blocks, effectively adding four more turnovers to the Knicks' tally.

Porzingis' stellar defense, combined with his 30 points, made him a team-best plus-13 in 38 minutes played against the Knicks.

"I thought KP, Al, and Jrue, with those three guys you're able to really change matchups defensively," Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla said postgame. "I thought the three of those guys did a good job of that in the second half, and we were able to go to some different coverages and matchups because of it."

Porzingis is capable of scoring 25-plus points any night because he's such a good outside shooter and one of the few centers in the league with a refined low-post game. He's also a good free throw shooter and hit nine of his 10 attempts Wednesday night.

But his impact won't just come on the offensive end of the floor. He's a very strong interior defender who will block and alter many shots each game. The Celtics lost a very good defensive center in Robert Williams III when they made the Jrue Holiday trade. If Porzingis can stay healthy for a full season, he can replace a lot of the defense Williams brought in the paint.