The NBA In-Season Tournament, the league's experiment into making the regular season more interesting, has reached its quarterfinal phase. In it, eight teams that won groups of five will battle for new hardware and prize money. For the 15-4 (3-1 in IST play) Boston Celtics, their matchup against the Indiana Pacers will be complicated. Not only because Indiana is undefeated in tournament play (4-0, 10-8 overall), but they will also have to play without Kristaps Porzingis.
Porzingis is out tonight, but could come back this week
Porzingis will miss his fourth straight game with a left calf strain that he suffered on Nov. 24 against the Orlando Magic (played 22 minutes and scored 9 points on 4-of-9 shooting). At the moment, he's the only Celtics player in their injury report outside of Jordan Walsh, who is on their G League team.
On the other side, the Pacers have some notable pieces listed on theirs, with Jalen Smith (left leg) out and Obi Toppin (left ankle sprain) and Tyrese Haliburton (illness, missed Saturday's game in Miami) questionable.
Though the Celtics are 3-0 in their games since the Porzingis injury and 4-0 this season without him in the lineup, it's hard to think Boston wouldn't want their star addition of the offseason back in the lineup. Especially considering he's averaging 18.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks on 54/32/80 shooting splits, and their starting lineup with him as been elite. Well, in that regard, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported some good news today:
If the Celtics win today, they will travel to Las Vegas to play in the Semifinals of the IST on Thursday against the Milwaukee Bucks or New York Knicks. If they don't, they would play on Friday. If there are no setbacks, Porzingis might be back in the lineup by one of those dates. That would continue an upward trend in staying relatively healthy for Porzingis, who only missed 17 games with the Washington Wizards last season, a far cry from previous seasons. Before that, he'd missed at least 25 games in five straight seasons.
The New Orleans Pelicans (winners of West Group B) visit the Sacramento Kings (winners of West Group C) in the other IST Quarterfinal for tonight. For tomorrow, the Knicks (Wild Card team) visit the Bucks (winners of East Group B), while the Phoenix Suns (Wild Card team) play in LA against the Lakers (winners of West Group A). The Semifinals are Thursday and the Championship game takes place on Sunday, all in Las Vegas.