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Raptors' Fred VanVleet to play Game 5 of NBA Finals with mouthpiece

Reuters

Monday 10 June 2019 17:47, UK

Toronto guard Fred VanVleet has been cleared to play in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night after recovering from taking an elbow to the head in Game 4.

VanVleet spoke to reporters on Sunday before Toronto, who lead the best-of-seven series 3-1, host the Golden State Warriors on Monday night, live on Sky Sports, in its quest for the franchise's first championship.

The key reserve said that he was cleared with no concussion symptoms, but he will have to use a mouthpiece after several medical visits since Friday.

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"I got back home, went to the hospital, got a CT scan to make sure that no bones were broken in my face," VanVleet said. "Then I went and made a visit to the dentist, and went home and went to sleep."

The Raptors defeated the Warriors in Game 4 despite losing VanVleet to a cut under his right eye, which required several stitches, with 9:35 remaining.

Golden State's Shaun Livingston was fouled by Serge Ibaka on a drive attempt, but the Warriors back-up guard fell backward into VanVleet, with his elbow cutting open VanVleet's face and chipping VanVleet's tooth during the fall.

Fred VanVleet lies on the ground after taking an elbow to the forehead in Game 4
Image: Fred VanVleet lies on the ground after taking an elbow to the forehead in Game 4

The somewhat gruesome scene Friday included VanVleet lying on the court with blood pouring out from under his right eye, which was stitched up in the locker room as the Raptors held off the Warriors.

"It was a weird play, and I took an unfortunate shot," said VanVleet, who admitted he is uncomfortable wearing mouthpieces.

"And so now I will be wearing a mouthpiece for as long as I can manage it. I'll probably throw it at some point during the game, but I'm going to try."

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VanVleet's availability is a boost for the Raptors heading into Game 5.

The third-year point guard has been an essential bench performer, averaging 12.8 points in 33.4 minutes per game in the series. He has shot 45.2 percent from the field, including 8-for-23 from 3-point range.

Game 5 takes place in Toronto in the early hours of Tuesday morning (2am) live on Sky Sports Arena

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