Fred VanVleet says his body “kicked”.
The Toronto Raptors’ star guard, who suffered a strained left hip flexor, was ruled out of Monday’s do-or-die Game 5 (8 p.m. ET) of their first-round playoff series against the Toronto 76ers. Philadelphia.
The 28-year-old, who has also suffered a bruised knee in recent months, limped off the pitch in the second quarter of Saturday’s fourth game, tearing his shirt in frustration.
“I knew I wouldn’t come back,” he said of his reaction. “To be in this situation with this team, being already hampered, you just try to go until you can’t run anymore. More so, just being in the moment, wanting to be there with the guys who are fight, try to win the victory.”
The Raptors trailed the Sixers 3-1 in the first-round playoff series and needed a win on Monday to avoid elimination.
VanVleet said the hip has bothered him on and off all season, but he felt a pop in the first quarter on Saturday. He finished the quarter and put some heat on his hip on the bench.
“Once I came back, everything was locked down,” he said of Monday’s shooting. “I couldn’t really move, I couldn’t really lift my leg or anything. It was hard to move.”
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VanVleet has averaged 20.3 points, 6.7 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game this season and was named All-Star for the first time, but his troublesome knee has kept him out of 13 games since late. january. The last shot was disappointing.
“Of course,” he said. “But I’m going to take the positives out of it. There’s always something rewarding about putting it on the line for your teammates, for your brothers in the locker room, knowing you’re not 100. My body is finally coming to type. So here we are.”
He said “painting with a wide brush”, there’s a chance the hip flexor and knee injuries are related.
“I will help as much as I can”
VanVleet planned to play as big of a role as possible in Monday’s game at Wells Fargo Arena.
“Do the same thing I always do: talk trash, keep the guys balanced, give them advice here and there, just support them,” VanVleet said. “Join the technical staff like I did [before]. I will be locked up all day today from this morning until the end of the game trying to help as much as possible.”
VanVleet was jokingly asked if he had one of the maroon Raptors sweatshirts to wear on the bench.
“I have to check my seizures,” laughed VanVleet. “We’ll see what [the coaches] carry. I could throw the top.”
If the series goes to Game 6 on Thursday in Toronto, VanVleet said he’s not sure he’s ready to return.
“Hopefully we can extend this thing and I would feel good to play maybe in the next round,” he said. “No one believes we can do it, but I think we can. I’m going to stay positive and do as much rehab as I can.”
Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes and possibly Malachi Flynn will take the ball to the ground in VanVleet’s absence.
The Raptors received a boost ahead of their 110-102 victory in Game 3, when Barnes was named NBA Rookie of the Year.
“It’s special. You only get one chance to get that one, so he deserved it. I thought he was by far the best rookie this year,” VanVleet said. “He was special for us this season. It’s not like we gave him all possession of the ball and let him dictate everything. I know how much he wanted it, he did it with a pure heart, is came and worked every day, and I’m so happy for him that he was rewarded and recognized for it.”
Embiid fined US$15,000 for criticizing officials
Philadelphia center Joel Embiid was fined US$15,000 for criticizing officials after the 76ers’ 110-102 loss to the Raptors on Saturday.
“For me it felt like they had a job, coming here tonight. And they did. So congratulations to them,” Embiid said after the game.
When asked if he was suggesting the officials were trying to guarantee a Game 5, he replied: “I don’t know, but you can understand that.”
Embiid also mockingly applauded the referees after the final bell sounded.