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Porzingis makes history in Celtics debut against Knicks

All smiles, Kristaps Porzingis records the most points scored in a Celtics debut.

Boston Celtics v New York Knicks Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Kristaps Porzingis, formally drafted fourth overall pick by the New York Knicks, blitzed his former team as a member of the Boston Celtics. If there’s one thing we know, he’s truly embraced wearing Celtics green and in a highly anticipated matchup, he gave Celtics fans everything and more.

Some players have the first time jitters in their team debuts. For Porzingis, he carried the C’s on his back with poise and enthusiasm. Smiling from start to finish, the Unicorn finished with 30 points, the most ever since Dominique Wilkins’ 25 in his first game with Boston.

“That was awesome — I’m not going to lie,” Porzingis told the media post-game. “We stayed poised, we stayed calm, and we were able to finish out the game — making some big plays, hitting some free-throws — overall fun game to play in for sure.”

In the Celtics 108-104 victory against the New York Knicks Wednesday night, Porzingis highlighted his versatility on both ends of the court. Down by six points in the fourth quarter, the Celtics big man came up clutch with four late free throws and a big three-pointer with the Knicks in the bonus. Last year, the Celtics struggled late down the stretch in critical games, especially in crucial moments.

“It’s important to show what my mindset is in tight games like this,” Porzingis continued. “Showing them that I’ll be there and do what I can on both ends, and today was a good step to build that trust.”

Tied at 101 late in the final quarter, the doubling of Jayson Tatum opened up Porzingis for a wide open go ahead three. In addition to scoring, the Celtics big man was a +13 on the floor with four blocks and eight rebounds. He scored 30 points on 8-of-15 (53 percent) field goal shooting, and 5-of-9 (55 percent) from long range.

He becomes the first player in NBA history to have five made three pointers and four blocks in a debut.

“He has an innate ability to put two on the ball,” said coach Joe Mazzulla. “When he gets the space, he’s a magnet. They are going to look different at times with [Porzingis] on the floor. Because of him, we can get some more post-ups down the stretch, and really change the spacing of the game.”

At 7’3, the center showcased his adaptable skill sets, which included running the pick and pop, back door lobs, and faking out the pick and roll for open three-pointers. I was encouraged to see him run the pick and pop not only with Jrue Holiday, but with Jaylen Brown and others. His incredibly fast release and ability to hit from distance was monumental for the Celtics.

When the Celtics traded for Kristaps Porzingis, President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens acquired an underrated defender. Stellar on the defensive end, he made an immediate impact on the interior defense, limiting the Knicks to only 24 points in the paint. He additionally held New York to 20 percent when contesting their shots. Of his multiple blocks, Porzingis had several on RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson.

“We’re a talented group. Even when the offense wasn’t great for us, we can lock in defensively — we have to make sure we bring that defense every night.”

For a team that looked clunky and disheveled at times, Porzingis shined all the way through and is confident that they’ll continue to get better.

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