Toronto Raptors rookie Scottie Barnes won't return to Saturday's matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of the first round of the NBA playoffs after suffering an ankle injury in the fourth quarter, Cassidy Hubbarth reported on the ESPN broadcast.
The Raptors later confirmed Barnes suffered a sprained left ankle, per The Athletic's Eric Koreen.
Barnes was helped off the court and into the locker room after Sixers big man Joel Embiid accidentally stepped on his foot.
Barnes, the fourth overall pick in the 2021 draft, was enjoying a solid playoff debut before exiting, notching 15 points, ten rebounds and eight assists in 32 minutes.
If Barnes misses any time moving forward, the Raptors could be in trouble. The 20-year-old started 74 regular-season games for Toronto this season, averaging 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists while shooting 49.2 percent from the floor and 30.1 percent from deep.
Even before the team's first-round series began, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse lauded Barnes and mentioned that he would play a significant role for the franchise in the postseason.
“I would expect him to be really great. I really would. I think his trajectory of how he’s playing, it looks like he’s getting stronger. He just looks like he’s playing harder and more physically. Game after game, he’s getting stronger, so that bodes well for him, I would imagine. He’s gonna have some ups and downs. He’ll be in the same category as about everybody else on the team.”
Chris Boucher and Precious Achiuwa would be on deck to take over for Barnes if necessary. Boucher appeared in 80 regular-season games, averaging 9.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, while Achiuwa averaged 9.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists.
Toronto entered its first-round series against Philadelphia as the underdog, and losing Barnes would make things significantly more difficult for the team as Embiid, James Harden, Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey dominated on Saturday night.
In addition, Shake Milton and Matisse Thybulle provide the Sixers with an added layer of depth that the Raptors just don't have this season.
Game 2 between the Raptors and 76ers is scheduled for Monday. For now, we'll have to wait for an official update on Barnes' status for that matchup. However, his X-rays came back negative, according to Blake Murphy of Sportsnet, which is a good sign. He'll undergo further imaging on Sunday.