After taking an accidental, thundering elbow to the head in the fourth quarter of Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Friday night, Toronto backup point guard Fred VanVleet is cleared to play in Game 5 on Monday as the Raptors aim to win the NBA title over the Golden State Warriors.
VanVleet spoke to reporters on Sunday before Toronto, leading three games to one, hosts Golden State on Monday in its quest for the franchise's first championship. The key reserve said that he was cleared with no concussion symptoms, but he will have to use a mouthpiece after several medical visits since Friday.
"I got back home, went to the hospital, got a CT scan to make sure that no bones were broken in my face," VanVleet said. "Then (I) went and made a visit to the dentist, and went home and went to sleep."
The Raptors defeated the Warriors in Game 4 despite losing VanVleet to a cut under his right eye, which required several stitches, with 9:35 remaining. Golden State's Shaun Livingston was fouled by Serge Ibaka on a drive attempt, but the Warriors backup guard fell backward into VanVleet, with his elbow cutting open VanVleet's face and chipping VanVleet's tooth during the fall.
The somewhat gruesome scene Friday included VanVleet lying on the court with blood pouring out from under his right eye, which was stitched up in the locker room as the Raptors held off the Warriors.
"It was a weird play, and I took an unfortunate shot," said VanVleet, who admitted he is uncomfortable wearing mouthpieces. "And so now I will be wearing a mouthpiece for as long as I can manage it. I'll probably throw it at some point during the game, but I'm going to try."
The Raptors are assuredly relieved that the third-year point guard will be available for Game 5. VanVleet has been an essential bench performer, averaging 12.8 points in 33.4 minutes per game in the series. He has shot 45.2 percent from the field, including 8-for-23 from 3-point range.
He had scored in double digits for six straight playoff games until scoring eight in his abridged Game 4 appearance.
--Field Level Media