Today marks the final day of group play for the NBA's In-Season Tournament. Tonight, the Boston Celtics, who are 2-1 in the tournament so far, will host the Chicago Bulls, who currently sit at 0-3. The Bulls have lost four of their last five games. Boston, on the other hand, is 3-2. However, there is an aura of uncertainty tonight, as one of the Celtics' top players is absent.
Kristaps Porzingis not available for tonight's game against Bulls
According to the injury report, Kristaps is out due to a left calf strain. According to Yahoo Sports, he's expected to be out for at least a week. Porzingis got hurt during Friday's loss to Orlando. In his first season with the Celtics, Kristaps averages 18.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.7 blocks per game. Aside from Porzingis, Jrue Holiday (ankle sprain) is also listed as a game-time decision for tonight.
Boston cannot afford these absences. To win Group C and pass the Orlando Magic in the In-Season Tournament standings, Boston needs to beat Chicago by at least 23 points tonight. In addition, the Brooklyn Nets' margin of victory against the Toronto Raptors must be at least eight points smaller than Boston's margin of victory over the Bulls. According to ESPN's Tim Bontemps, "In the event all three teams did tie in points scored, the tiebreaker would go to the previous season's regular-season record, and thus Boston would win the group."
As far as injuries go for the Bulls, Alex LaVine (left toe strain) and Zach Caruso (right foot soreness) are both listed as game-time decisions. Keep in mind, Chicago has already been eliminated from the tournament. It's been 10 days since their last win. If nothing else, they'll be looking to spoil the Celtics' party.
Obviously, the Celtics will face a much more uphill battle without Porzingis and Holiday. However, don't forget about the original Boston duo, Brown and Tatum. While Holiday and Porzingis missed Sunday's game against the Hawks, Tatum and Brown combined for 55 points. All in all, the Celtics have potential to be a strong team even without Porzingis and (possibly) Holiday.