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Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis, who has been sidelined since Game 5 of the team's first-round series against the Miami Heat due to a soleus strain in his right calf, is expected to miss the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. The Celtics will meet the winner of the conference semifinal series between the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks, with Game 1 scheduled for Tuesday evening.

This news is somewhat expected given Porzingis' 7-foot-3 frame and the nature of calf injuries, but there is a silver lining. Wojnarowski also reported that there is optimism that -- barring any setbacks -- Porzingis should be able to return to the court at some point during the conference finals. Acquired by Boston last summer in a trade that involved Marcus Smart, Porzingis added a new dimension to the Celtics' historically potent offense as a stretch-five who averaged 20 points, seven rebounds and two blocks per game on 52/38/86 shooting splits.

In the four games he played during the opening-round series against the Heat, Porzingis averaged 12 points and five rebounds while shooting 40% from deep. Boston hasn't really missed him since the injury, as it has put up an impressive 121 points per 100 possessions with the big man off the court, while holding opponents to 105. That's largely due to Al Horford, the veteran big who filled in for various resting or injured Celtics throughout the regular season. With Horford on the floor, Boston's net rating has improved by almost 16 points per 100 possessions compared to when he's on the bench.

Even given the success they've had with Horford, the common consensus is that the Celtics are going to need Porzingis eventually -- if not in the conference finals, then certainly against whichever team makes it out of the Western Conference gauntlet. While Horford is a more than capable 3-point shooter, Porzingis shot them at a higher volume during the regular season. He's also the superior rim protector, as Porzingis lands in the 96th percentile in defending shots at the basket during the postseason, per Synergy Sports. Horford is in the 66th percentile.

Porzingis also provides an excellent post-up option for a Celtics offense that has a tendency to stall out at times, landing in the 96th percentile with 1.3 points per possession in post-up situations during the regular season, per Synergy.

It's a good news/bad news situation for the Celtics, who would love to have Porzingis on the court for the start of the conference finals. That being said, the fact that there's a real chance that he could return during the series has to be a pleasant development.