Celtics take 3-1 series lead but lose Porzingis

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MIAMI — The Boston Celtics took one more step toward eliminating the rival Miami Heat with a convincing 102-88 Game 4 victory Monday to take a commanding 3-1 series lead.

But the win might have come with a cost, as Kristaps Porzingis, the team’s starting center, hobbled off the court with a calf injury just before halftime and didn’t return. Porzingis will undergo imaging Tuesday, but early indications are that he didn’t sustain an Achilles tendon injury, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Following the game, Porzingis slowly walked out of the visiting locker room area wearing a gray walking boot on his right foot.

Porzingis appeared to tweak something after catching a pass from Jaylen Brown late in the second period. Upon getting the ball, Porzingis started driving toward his left, then grimaced before quickly giving the ball back to Brown and coming up lame in the middle of the play. Porzingis didn’t appear to be touched by anyone on the play during which he was hurt.

As he walked to the locker room with a support staffer, Porzingis briefly held his jersey over his face in apparent frustration.

Minutes after he sustained the injury, the Celtics issued an update, saying Porzingis was suffering from right calf tightness. Following the game, Porzingis posted on social media, making note of the team’s victory and adding, “Thanks for all the support, will be good” with a biceps emoji at the end of the message.

Celtics players held out hope that Porzingis’ injury wasn’t serious but also acknowledged that his presence as a floor spacer and rim-protector meant things would change if he is forced to miss time.

“All of us, our mindset has to shift,” said veteran center Al Horford, who started the second half in Porzingis’ place. “I talked to Luke [Kornet] and Xavier [Tillman], and let them know that all of us have to be ready to step up and do a little more, because KP was playing so well defensively.”

Said Jayson Tatum: “We’re going to have to play different, but it’s a next-man-up mentality for however long [he’s out]. Obviously I don’t know anything [yet] — but it’s next man up. We just have to find a way to win each game.”

The 7-foot-3 Porzingis, who joined the Celtics last offseason via trade with the Washington Wizards, fit his new team almost perfectly, averaging 20 points and seven rebounds per contest on career-best efficiency while giving Boston an even more dangerous five-out offense. But the Celtics, who went 21-4 in the regular season when Porzingis was out, looked just fine Monday in his absence.

Much of that stemmed from the Heat having no answer for Derrick White. The guard caught fire from deep in the first half, in which he shot 6-for-9 from 3, and went on to finish with a career-high 38 points.

“It’s unreal. You hit a couple, and then after a while, you feel like you can’t miss — the basket’s just huge,” said the 6-4 White, who also managed to throw down a pair of uncharacteristic dunks. White’s scoring outburst made for an even steeper climb for the short-handed, scoring-challenged Heat, who haven’t been able to replicate their hot shooting from Game 2, when they hit a franchise playoff-record 23 triples.

Including Monday’s 9-for-33 performance from deep, Miami has shot just 29.5% (18-for-61) since then. Games 3 and 4 marked the first time since 2022 that Miami has been held under 90 points in back-to-back contests, be it regular season or the playoffs. The Celtics were the opponent last time it happened, too, back in the 2022 Eastern Conference finals.

Boston will seek to close out the best-of-seven series when it hosts Game 5 Wednesday night.

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