Fred VanVleet injury update: Raptors star out for Game 5 vs. 76ers

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 23: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 23: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors are hanging on by a thread against the Philadelphia 76ers, as Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam are doing everything that they can to escape an early exit at the hands of Joel Embiid and their division rivals. VanVleet hasn’t had the best series against such a quality opponent.

VanVleet averaged 13.8 points per game on 36% shooting and 33% from 3-point range in the first four games of the series. After looking less than 100% to start the playoffs, VanVleet had to leave Game 4 with what looked like a concerning hip injury. He even ripped his jersey in disgust.

The official line on VanVleet was that he was suffering from a hip flexor strain. His availability for Game 5 was in doubt from the jump, and the 2022 All-Star himself confirmed that Toronto will need to try and extend their playoff run without him in the lineup.

VanVleet is not going to play in Game 5, which puts even more pressure on Toronto’s array of stars in the starting lineup. Even if he hasn’t been dominating in this series having an experienced presence like VanVleet out on the floor is invaluable for such a young team in this situation.

Fred VanVleet injury update: Toronto Raptors star out for Game 5

The most likely solution Nick Nurse will fall back on to replace him is using either Siakam or Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes as the primary ball-handler. Bench sniper Precious Achiuwa or Khem Birch could slide into the starting lineup and handle the responsibilities at center.

The Raptors will likely throw Malachi Flynn back into the rotation. While he has earned some less than savory reviews this season, his playoff minutes have been fairly impressive. His defense on the perimeter has been fun to watch. This could be a make-or-break game for his Raptors career.

While the Raptors will try to use their long lineup to baffle Tyrese Maxey on the perimeter, it’s impossible to view this as anything other than a crippling blow for this team. Their point guard, leader, and clutch shot-taker might not return for the remainder of the series.

The Raptors have played (and won) games against quality teams without Fred VanVleet in the lineup, so an upset win in game 5 wouldn’t be an earth-shattering development. However, winning a regular-season game is a completely different beast when compared to a playoff game on the road with the season on the line.

Next. 3 keys to upsetting the 76ers. dark