The Boston Celtics have assembled one of the deepest, most talented rosters in the history of the NBA that they haven't needed Jayson Tatum to be at his best, shooting-wise, to take a 2-0 lead over the Dallas Mavericks in the 2024 NBA Finals. They have steamrolled the opposition thus far in the playoffs, losing only two games while winning 14, and that's with Kristaps Porzingis missing 10 of those games due to a calf strain.

Porzingis made his triumphant return to the Celtics lineup in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, although he did not retake his starting position. The Celtics decided that bringing him off the bench is what's best, and it's hard to argue that this decision has not worked. Thus far in two NBA Finals games, Porzingis has a plus-minus of +25, with his +12 being a game-high in their win on Sunday night.

But some still aren't convinced of the Celtics big man's impact. Tim Hardaway Sr., the father of Mavericks guard Tim Hardaway Jr., recently went on Fox Sports 1's The Carton Show and declared that Boston is worse off whenever Porzingis is on the floor.

“A lot of people would disagree with me but I think the Boston Celtics play better without Porzingis in the lineup. I think the ball moves better, I think they get up and down quicker, I think they rebound the ball better. I think they're a better offensive and defensive team when he's not on the court,” Hardaway said.

Celtics fans will be all up in arms, and justifiably so, following Tim Hardaway Sr.'s opinion. Kristaps Porzingis turned the momentum of Game 1 with an 11-point first quarter, and in Game 2, he had 12 points and two emphatic blocks that helped keep the Mavericks at bay. Perhaps he just has the back of his son, and this is his way of showing his support to the Mavericks.

Dissecting Tim Hardaway Sr.'s opinion of the Celtics star

Some of Tim Hardaway Sr.'s claims must be fact-checked. With Kristaps Porzingis on the floor during the regular season, the Celtics played at a much quicker pace, per PBP Stats so them getting up and down quicker without him is flat-out not true. However, Hardaway is right in that there is less ball movement whenever Porzingis is on the floor (increased assist rate whenever he's not playing), and the Celtics are marginally worse on the offensive glass during his minutes.

But it's a stretch to say that the Celtics play better without Porzingis; there are teams that Porzingis thrives against, and the Mavericks matchup is one of them. For starters, Porzingis is a top-tier floor spacer who is an effective scorer from three levels. He forces the Mavs' big men to guard the perimeter. And then he is also the Celtics' best rim protector. When the Mavericks were launching an all-out assault on the paint, Porzingis helped deter a few would-be scorers with his length, and he even swatted a few shots away.

There are times when the Celtics are better without Kristaps Porzingis, as without him, they are able to cover more ground on the perimeter. Porzingis mostly plays drop coverage, which can mean death against lethal pull-up threats. But against the Mavericks, Porzingis, thus far, has been one of the most decisive factors as to why the Celtics are in need of just two wins to hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy.

Kristaps Porzingis' Mavericks reputation is still following him

Kristaps Porzingis has been teammates with Tim Hardaway Jr. for four and a half seasons, so Tim Hardaway Sr., the Hall of Famer, certainly has had plenty of time to watch the 7'3 Latvian play. Porzingis had his fair share of ups and downs with the Mavericks, and perhaps his reputation in Dallas is still following him to this day even though he has been everything the Celtics have needed and more.

Towards the tail-end of his Mavericks stint, Porzingis struggled immensely. He was relegated to corner-sitting duties and the occasional post-up, and he couldn't make use of his size advantage to dominate in the post. It looked as though Porzingis had lost all confidence. While he played better to start the 2021-22 season, the Mavs decided that he was not the best fit alongside Luka Doncic.

It's hard to describe Porzingis' Mavericks stint as anything other than a disappointment. He and Doncic did not jell as well as the team had hoped, and Porzingis' production declined sharply as a result. But with the Celtics, he has been part of an impressive ensemble cast of talent that prioritizes winning above everything. Winning the 2024 NBA championship would go a long way towards making Porzingis' sour Mavericks stint a complete thing of the past.