Home » Celtics go up 2-0 in NBA Finals… but sweat on star after late injury concern

Celtics go up 2-0 in NBA Finals… but sweat on star after late injury concern

The Boston Celtics went up 2-0 in the NBA Finals after defeating the Dallas Mavericks 105-98 in Game 2 at the TD Garden, although there could be one injury concern out of the win.

Celtics big man Kristaps Porzingis, who was an absolute menace on both ends in Game 1 and had 12 points and two blocks on Monday, pulled up with a calf issue in the fourth quarter.

Porzingis had been sidelined for around a month with a right calf strain before returning for the Finals, where he hardly looked hampered as he led the way with an 11-point first quarter.

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Porzingis again wasn’t showing any rust early on Monday but was struggling late in the game as he tried to run back in defence.

“This is a big deal,” Doris Burke noted in commentary as Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla called a timeout, subbing Porzingis out of the game as he was worked on by a trainer.

Crucially, the latest issue was with Porzingis’ left leg — not the right — and Mazzulla said post-game he had “zero” concern that his star big man would be unavailable for the next game.

Jrue Holiday dribbles the ball against Josh Green. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/AFPSource: AFP

Boston ended up holding out a Dallas side that refused to go away, making a few clutch 3-pointers while Derrick White rejected P.J. Washington with an emphatic block late.

Although replays showed Jaylen Brown made contact with Washington in the back, meaning a foul could have been called with Dallas only trailing 103-98 at that point.

Instead, Boston went up the other end as Brown made a driving layup to seal the win and all eyes will now be on whether Porzingis is fit to play in Game 3 as the Celtics travel to Dallas.

The Mavericks had injury concerns of their own heading into Game 2, with Luka Doncic questionable and genuinely looked to be in pain, grabbing at his chest at practice and then looking equally uncomfortable at shootaround.

However, the Mavericks superstar didn’t look at all hindered by the injury as he went 3-for-4 from the field early in Monday’s game to give Dallas a 13-6 lead over Boston.

Doncic was seen being wrapped up around his chest pre-game, with Mavericks coach Jason Kidd revealing it was a thoracic contusion injury which the team believes was suffered when the Slovenian superstar took a charge or dived on the floor in Game 1.

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Mazzulla called a timeout at 13-6 and it had the desired effect as Boston went on a 6-0 run sparked by some disruptive defence, with Brown turning a steal into a dunk while Porzingis picked up where he left off Game 1 with a big block.

Jayson Tatum, however, finished the opening quarter scoreless after missing his first four shots, with Doris Burke noting his match-up with Australian Josh Green was one to watch.

“That’s going to be an interesting match-up because Josh in Game 1, some of it in garbage time, held Tatum to 0-for-4,” she said.

“He was super physical with him. Just something to keep an eye on, how much does he get that match-up.”

Green hasn’t prove himself much of a consistent outside shooter in the postseason but he made a crucial play down the stretch when he drew a foul on the final 3-point attempt of the quarter.

Former NBA sharpshooter J.J. Redick described it as a “really smart play” from the Australian, who made two of his three free throws.

The Celtics almost finished the opening quarter without a 3-pointer for the first time this season, only for Al Horford to drain one from deep late.

Although otherwise Boston went 1-for-9 from 3-point land while Dallas made two of its five attempts, with Irving scoring eight points in the first quarter alongside Doncic’s 13.

Luka Doncic was heavily involved early. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Porzingis was once again heavily involved after his fast start to Game 1, scoring eight points to go with two rebounds and a block on Monday.

This time around though he was overshadowed by Doncic, who added a turnaround jumper and corner 3-pointer early in the second quarter to quickly bring up 18 total points.

It was just looking like one of those nights for the Celtics, with the Mavericks superstar making tough shot after tough shot.

But eventually the shots stopped falling and that was consistent across the board for Dallas as the Celtics started to gain momentum and took a 36-35 lead five minutes into the quarter.

Boston ended up taking a 54-51 lead into halftime despite getting a combined 13 points from Tatum and Brown while the team as a whole was shooting just 20 per cent from 3-point land.

While Tatum was having a tough shooting night he was finding other ways to make an impact, namely as a playmaker, finishing with a career-high eight assists at the half.

Doncic, meanwhile, was doing everything he could to keep Dallas in the game with 23 points and three assists.

Jayson Tatum was dishing out assists Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/AFPSource: AFP

The Mavericks superstar was heavily involved once again to open the third quarter, recording two points, a pair of rebounds, five assists and a steal in the first six minutes of the period.

Even still, it wasn’t enough to put Dallas in front as Tatum started to find his rhythm with six early points, doing well to finish through contact instead of settling for outside shots.

The Celtics were able to push out their lead out to 75-63 late in the third quarter as Jrue Holiday continued to make an impact on both ends of the floor.

It prompted Kidd to call a timeout and bring Doncic back into the game after just a 30-second rest for the Slovenian, who immediately made a 3-pointer on his first possession.

On Dallas’ next possession Doncic was quickly doubled but found a way to get the ball to Australian Dante Exum, who was left wide-open and drained the triple.

Dallas had got the Boston lead down 80-74 entering the final few seconds of the quarter but fell further behind as Payton Pritchard launched up for an unlikely deep 3 on the buzzer — his first field goal of the Finals.

After a rough third quarter which saw him fail to make a field goal, Irving stepped up early in the fourth with a pair of assists and strong finish to reduce Boston’s lead to 90-83.

But once again, just as the Mavericks looked to be closing the gap, the Celtics pushed ahead on an unlikely Derrick White 3-pointer right at the end of the shot clock.

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Irving though was once more at the centre of another Dallas fightback as he made a driving layup and then found Daniel Gafford for the alley oop dunk to trim Boston’s buffer to 97-89.

At that point it was clear Porzingis, who had been sidelined for around a month with a calf injury, was labouring as he tried to get back in defence.

Mazzulla called a timeout and substituted in Horford, with a trainer working on Porzingis’ calf.

With Porzingis off the court, suddenly Dallas had an opening to make it a closer game heading into the clutch minutes, but back-to-back Boston 3-pointers pushed the difference out again.

The Mavericks then went on a 8-0 run to make things interesting before the Celtics closed it out, with Holiday finishing on a team-high 26 points to go with 11 rebounds.

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