NBA Playoffs

What is a medial retinaculum tear? Doctor explains Kristaps Porzingis' ‘rare' injury

Dr. John Ponti joined NBC Sports Boston to explain what a torn medial retinaculum means for Kristaps Porzingis.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Tuesday's discouraging update on Kristaps Porzingis' injury left Boston Celtics fans scratching their heads.

The Celtics announced Porzingis suffered a "torn medial retinaculum allowing dislocation of the posterior tibialis tendon in his left leg" during Game 2 of the NBA Finals. In the statement, the team labeled it a "rare" injury and noted that Porzingis' availability for upcoming games will be determined "day-to-day."

"Torn medial retinaculum allowing dislocation of the posterior tibialis tendon" is a mouthful, so orthopedist Dr. John Ponti of Southcoast Health joined NBC Sports Boston to explain Porzingis' injury in simpler terms.

"It sounds like Porzingis injured what's called the medial retinaculum of his ankle. And essentially what this is, is a very thick band-like structure that helps tether the tendons of the ankle in place and enables them to do their job," Dr. Ponti said. "So when Porzingis tore the retinaculum in his ankle, essentially what has happened is one of those tendons is allowed now to shift out of place to dislocate.

"And so, that can be quite painful. And the function of that specific tendon is to be able to plantar flex the foot or to go up onto the toes. So for a 7-foot-3 center, that can be very challenging, especially when trying to jump."

Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla described Porzingis' injury as "serious" on Tuesday. Porzingis had a more optimistic outlook, though he acknowledged the decision to play in Wednesday's Game 3 and beyond is out of his hands.

Ponti shed some light on the possibility of Porzingis suiting up.

"It's certainly going to be a challenge for the medical team and for Porzingis to be able to return back tomorrow night," he added. "It certainly depends on his level of pain and how much function he has been able to maintain despite this injury. So if the pain is tolerable and he is able to show that he can jump and he can run, and it's not disrupting his ability to perform those tasks, there is a chance that he could play."

If Porzingis is forced to sit out, veteran Al Horford will continue as Boston's starting center as he has done since the Latvian big man missed time with a calf strain earlier in the playoffs. The good news is the C's have a 30-5 record without Porzingis in the regular season and playoffs combined.

Porzingis provided a spark off the bench for the Celtics in his two Finals appearances at TD Garden, averaging 16.0 points and five rebounds in 21.9 minutes.

Currently, the Celtics have Porzingis listed as questionable for Game 3 vs. the Dallas Mavericks. Tip-off for the matchup is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET with coverage starting at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Boston with Celtics Pregame Live.

Here are five things to know about 7-foot-3 Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis.
Contact Us