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Kristaps Porzingis available to play Game 4 of NBA Finals, but only in "very specific instances"

Leon Powe on Celtics big NBA Finals Game 3 win over Dallas and keys to a sweep
Leon Powe on Celtics big NBA Finals Game 3 win over Dallas and keys to a sweep 08:06

BOSTON -- Kristaps Porzingis is available for the Celtics in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. But there is no guarantee that the big man will log any minutes Friday as Boston hopes to close out the Dallas Mavericks to win the franchise's 18th championship. 

Porzingis missed Game 3 on Wednesday night with a rare tendon injury, after the Boston medical staff ruled that he wasn't ready for a return. But according to The Athletic's Shams Charania, Porzingis "has a chance" to take the floor Friday night. 

Just over an hour before Game 4, head coach Joe Mazzulla told reporters that while Porzingis is available, there is a caveat. 

"He's not quite there yet, but only available in certain situations, very specific instances," Mazzulla said. 

The Celtics made it clear Tuesday that the decision to play or not was no longer in Porzingis' hands. Mazzulla said Thursday that the fact the Celtics are up 3-0 in the series won't play into the medical staff's decision on Porzingis' playing status Friday night.

"Kristaps has gotten better from yesterday to today. He's fighting like hell to play, but it's going to be up to us to protect him and to make sure that it's in the best interest for him as a player and a person," said Mazzulla. "And none of that -- going into what's best for a player and a person has nothing to do with where we're at from a basketball standpoint."    

Porzingis played in the first two games of the Finals and helped the Celtics to an 18-point win in Game 1, dropping 20 points off 8-for-13 shooting off the bench against the Mavs. But he was injured in the third quarter of Game 2, and didn't play the final five minutes of that Boston victory. 

Porzingis missed the East semis and the Eastern Conference Finals with a calf injury, but the Celtics are 10-1 without the big man this postseason. Al Horford remained in the starting rotation upon Porzingis' return in the NBA Finals, and on Wednesday night, Xavier Tillman gave the team 11 quality minutes off the bench with three points, four rebounds, and a pair of blocks. 

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