Fred VanVleet’s play has been suboptimal for the Toronto Raptors throughout the playoffs and frankly, that may be generous. However, you can’t count out the heart he’s displayed to elevate the Raptors following Sunday’s 118-112 double-overtime victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.
VanVleet suffered a visibly bloodied left eye during Game 3, and told reporters that he incurred the injury after taking an elbow to the face from Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe.
VanVleet's left eye is bloodied. He said he took an elbow to it late in the game, needed stitches to close the gash. pic.twitter.com/AzU7OZra0e— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) May 20, 2019
With Norm Powell and Kyle Lowry already out of the game with six fouls under their belts, VanVleet was quickly fixed up by the team’s medical staff and finished the contest.
The injury was a solid summary of his tough day at the office. He finished with just three points on 1-of-11 shooting, adding six assists and three rebounds, to go along with a minus-four rating.
In fairness to VanVleet, his lone make of the night was a three-pointer that briefly restored the Raptors’ lead with just over three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
VanVleet will need to be better for the Raptors if they hope to advance to their first NBA Finals in franchise history, especially if Lowry runs into foul trouble as he did during Game 3. However, a large component of the playoffs is the ability to persevere.
He’ll need to continue to bet on himself as the Eastern Conference finals rapidly march onward.
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