Fred VanVleet Ruled Out for Raptors vs. 76ers Game 4; Hip Injury Diagnosed as Strain

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVApril 23, 2022

Toronto Raptors' Fred VanVleet plays during Game 2 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Monday, April 18, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
AP Photo/Matt Slocum

The Toronto Raptors' uphill climb in their first-round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers perhaps got even more difficult Saturday with an injury to guard Fred VanVleet.

According to Eric Koreen of The Athletic, VanVleet was ruled out for the remainder of Saturday's Game 4 during the second half because of a left hip strain.

Entering Saturday's contest, the fifth-seeded Raptors trailed the No. 4 Sixers 3-0 in the series.

Prior to getting knocked out of Game 4, VanVleet had scored five points on 2-of-6 shooting to go along with three assists and two rebounds in 15 minutes.

His exit placed even greater emphasis on backcourt mate Gary Trent Jr., as well as the likes of OG Anunoby and Scottie Barnes.

Despite going undrafted out of Wichita State, FVV has developed into a key player for the Raptors over the years and set career highs in most major categories this season.

In 65 regular-season games, the 28-year-old veteran averaged 20.3 points, 6.7 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 3.7 three-pointers made, all of which were career highs. He also played great defense with 1.7 steals per game.

As a result, VanVleet was named an All-Star, making him one of only five undrafted players to become an All-Star in NBA history.

Even before this season, VanVleet's importance to the Raptors' was obvious, as he helped Toronto win a championship in 2019 and then took on an even greater role after Kawhi Leonard left for the Los Angeles Clippers in free agency.

While the Raptors lost each of the first three games in their first-round playoff series against Philly this season, VanVleet was making an impact entering Saturday.

Although he shot only 35.4 percent from the field in the first three games, he averaged 16.7 points, 7.3 assists, 3.7 three-pointers made, 3.3 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 1.3 blocks while playing a remarkable 41.7 minutes per contest.

With VanVleet out for the rest of Game 4, the Raptors will be without not only an All-Star guard, but also a heart-and-soul leader who is especially crucial on the playoff stage.