The Toronto Raptors’ already short bench might be even shorter in Boston on Friday.
Raptors guard Fred VanVleet wasn’t sure he’d be able to play against the Celtics after tripping over a cameraman in Toronto’s 130-122 overtime win against the New Orleans Pelicans in Tuesday’s season opener. His ankle was still hurting two days after the incident.
“I’m a little sore, probably day-to-day at this point, just seeing what I can do,” VanVleet told reporters on Thursday afternoon after Raptors practice. “Trying to get through the day and see how I feel tomorrow. I’ll get some good treatment and try to be ready for tomorrow.
“I’m not sure it’s such a friendly place to try and go out with a bum ankle, so I’ll try to make sure I’m good before I step out there.”
VanVleet tripped over a cameraman in the third quarter of the Raptors’ eventual win, heading to the locker room before returning to Toronto’s bench. He finished the game with 34 points, five rebounds and seven assists over 44 minutes.
After the game, VanVleet complained to reporters about the court-side positions of cameramen and photographers, saying that injuries happen to players “way too much.” He said on Thursday that he spoke with the NBA about his comments, but nothing in depth.
“I’m sure they’ve thought about it. I’m not saying they’re sitting on their hands,” VanVleet said. “No matter how hard it is, or difficult a decision it may be to cut some things or other things, I think it’s something we should look at.
“While I do understand it, I’m speaking from the perspective of a player who just got hurt. So you can understand where I’m coming from.”
Nurse said that he’ll probably have forwards Patrick McCaw (knee) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (groin) available for the game in Boston, allowing him to expand his bench. McCaw, if cleared to play, would be one of the Raptors go-to reserve players, likely pushing rookie Terence Davis down the bench.
“If I go to the next guy down the line, it could be any one of five guys, it really could,” Nurse said. “It’s just gonna be a gut read for me. It could be Malcolm Miller, it could be Matt Thomas, it could be Stanley Johnson, it could be Rondae.”
The Raptors were officially awarded their NBA Finals rings in a pregame ceremony on Tuesday and saw their championship banner raised to the rafters of Scotiabank Arena. Nurse believed that emotional high took a toll on his team, however, and he considered putting a ninth player into the game just to give his starters a charge.
“I certainly talked about it at halftime because I thought there was an emotional drainage of energy from the game,” Nurse said. “I don’t know if we had much left at halftime, to be honest with you, just kinda looking at everybody, and they’re wide-eyed."