HomeSportsWhat will Celtics do in center vs. Pacers in Porzingis' absence?

What will Celtics do in center vs. Pacers in Porzingis’ absence?

What will Celtics do in center vs. Pacers in Porzingis’ absence? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics are without center Kristaps Porzingis to start their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Indiana Pacers.

The team officially ruled Porzingis out of Game 1 at TD Garden on Tuesday night. The veteran center suffered a right calf injury against the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the first round and has not played since.

In a new episode of NBC Sports Boston’s Celtics Talk podcastChris Forsberg and Brian Scalabrine discussed how the team should handle Porzingis’ workload when he returns, and which players could see minutes at center against the Pacers in his absence.

“I don’t know what they’re going to do (with Porzingis). Those guys know a lot more than I do. Aside from everyone’s ego, I think Porzingis needs to get back into this with some playing time,” Scalabrine said. “Let him get into his place, do it slowly, and that will give Al Horford more peace of mind.”

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If Porzingis can’t play much in this series, who could get playing time at center besides Horford?

Luke Kornet has given the C’s some good minutes at that spot all season. Xavier Tillman has played just three of Boston’s 10 playoff games so far. Maybe he could be in the mix in this series. Tillman was a real difference-maker for the Memphis Grizzlies last season in their first-round series against the Los Angeles Lakers.

One guy who Scalabrine and Forsberg both think could see an uptick for the Celtics in minutes is former Pacers forward Oshae Brissett.

“This may be crazy, but Brissett could be in this series,” Scalabrine said. “He can compete very well against them, so we’ll see.”

Forsberg added: “It’s an interesting theory. I always go back to the motivation factor, he was ready for those games against Indy. I’d have to check the lineup data but it looks like they found something with him in there he was almost a centerpiece in those setups.

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“It feels like a series where you can get away with going small. It just comes down to whether Joe Mazzulla trusts him. Offensively his finishing just hasn’t been there, but I agree, I think it’s a lineup is the one you have to do. At least try it in the early stages. Maybe they should have thrown it away at the end of the last round, but they have options if Porzingis isn’t there to start the series.”

The Pacers aren’t that big. The only player on their roster who gets a lot of minutes and stands over 6-foot-4 is Myles Turner. However, the 6-foot-1 power forward is not a dominant low-post scorer and he attempts 4.2 three-pointers per game.

The Celtics could certainly get away with playing two undersized power forwards in Tillman and Brissett in this series. The real question is whether these guys can offer the Celtics anything offensively. The Pacers are the highest scoring team in the playoffs, and the Celtics will need to match that firepower.

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Also in this episode:

  • What are Scal’s thoughts on the Pacers?

  • The impact of Aaron Nesmith

  • A look at the opportunities

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