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"All signs point to" Celtics' Kristaps Porzingis playing in Game 1 of NBA Finals

Boston was able to finish off the Heat and then beat the banged-up Cavaliers and Pacers without Kristaps Porzingis.

The NBA Finals against Dallas could be very different, which is why it's good news for the Celtics that Porzingis seems likely to play. He practiced with the team on Friday, and ESPN’s Sebastian Christensen said "all signs point" to Porzingis playing in Game 1 on Thursday.

Porzingis will be critical on both ends of the court in the Finals.

On offense, Boston needs five shooters on the floor to pull Dallas' rim-protecting big men — Daniel Gafford and Dereck Lively II — away from the basket, and while backup 5 Al Horford hit 3s against Indiana, the Mavericks will dare him to do it again so they can pack the paint. On defense, Porzingis' mobility as a rim-protecting big matters against Luka Doncic, who uses the pick-and-roll to manipulate the defense and get players into impossible positions (like he did last series with Rudy Gobert). Porzingis can blitz a little as needed but has the versatility to be part of a team, throwing a lot of different looks at Doncic to try and keep him off balance.

If Porzingis can give Boston more than 25 good minutes a game (ideally closer to 30+), its chances of hanging banner No. 18 go way up.