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NBA Finals: Porzingis powers Celtics to Game 1 win over Mavericks

The Latvian had a monster night on his return from injury

Kristaps Porzingis

As comebacks go, Kristaps Porzingis’ was pretty spectacular.

Having recovered from a calf strain, Porzingis made his first appearance for more than five weeks and promptly powered the Boston Celtics to a Game 1 rout of the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals.

The Latvian played 21 minutes off the bench but made them count with 20 points, six rebounds and three blocks as the Celtics won 107-89 in front of an enthusiastic home crowd.

“I think, obviously, what helped me is just even from the walk out before the game and then getting on the court, getting that kind of support was unreal,” Porzingis said in comments reported by ESPN. 

“The adrenaline was pumping through my veins, and that definitely helped.

“Obviously, it wasn’t ideal that I was out for such a long time, but I did everything I could to prepare mentally for this moment coming back, and it paid off, and we got the job done tonight and had a good game, and happy about the result.”

His return is a huge boost for the Celtics, and coach Joe Mazzulla, who said: “I know the storyline has to be what’s he going to look like because he’s been off for a month?” 

“But that’s what he’s been doing his whole career. The guy’s a great player. The reason why we’re here is because of what he’s done.

“It doesn’t matter how long he takes off, the guy’s going to make plays because of how talented he is and the work he puts in. What he did for us tonight is big and we need that for the rest of the series.”

It was a chastening evening for the Mavericks but Kyrie Irving, who shot just 32 per cent from the floor, insists the series will still be fun.

He said: “The ball has got to move a little bit more. 

“And again, that starts with me just being able to push the pace, get us some easy opportunities, and just adjust to what they are throwing at us.

“It’s a fun series. It was fun going into the game. It’s still going to be fun. But there’s going to be a level of chess that still has to be played.”

Picture of Jon Fisher

Jon Fisher

Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.