The Sixers will be trying to finish off their first-round playoff series on Monday night, and they’ll be doing so against a more depleted Raptors team now.
Fred VanVleet was already listed as questionable leading up to Game 5 as he’s been dealing with a left hip flexor strain for some time, and had to leave Game 4 early. He’s now said that he won’t be playing on Monday.
Fred VanVleet says he won’t play tonight, says he’s taking it day by day from here.— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) April 25, 2022
VanVleet clearly hasn’t looked like his usual self athletically this series, lacking the same kind of acceleration and quickness he’s used to.
That said, losing his ball-handling, passing and high-volume three-point shooting is obviously significant for the Raptors. For an offense that can struggle creating in the half court as is, this will place more pressure guys like Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr. to create off the bounce. As long as the Sixers bring enough energy, VanVleet’s absence should make it easier for them to cover the Raptors’ attack and help more off the three-point line to block driving lanes.
Meanwhile, the Sixers will have everyone in their rotation available as they return to Philadelphia. Unfortunately, it has been confirmed that Joel Embiid has a torn ligament in his right thumb, but he’s going to continue playing and put off the required surgery until the offseason.
To get everyone as much rest as possible before the second round, and to avoid dragging out the series with another trip to Toronto, the Sixers should be highly motivated to come out strong and grab their final win in Game 5. Now that they’re back at home and the Raptors will be without VanVleet as well, the Sixers should be able to do just that.