Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet is feeling the residual effects of dealing with an injury in a truncated NBA season.
In Toronto's loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday, VanVleet finished with 11 points while shooting 4-for-17 (23.5 percent) from the field in just over 42 minutes of action. Not only were VanVleet's 42:03 of game-time a season-high but they also came on the second end of a back-to-back, as he saw just under 32 minutes of action in a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night.
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After Tuesday's loss, the 27-year-old was candid when asked how he was feeling physically after seeing over 73 minutes of action in under 30 hours.
"Like s--," VanVleet told reporters. "But it's part of it, I try to lay my body on the line every night, sacrifice for the team, try to get a win but I wasn't very good tonight."
After suffering a hip injury on April 2, VanVleet was sidelined for six games before returning to the lineup on April 16. He has since appeared in five of the Raptors' last six games, posting averages of 13.8 points, 6.6 assists and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 35.2 percent from the field and 32.6 percent from 3-point range.
In the team's most recent back-to-back with Cleveland and Brooklyn, VanVleet scored a total of 19 points on a combined 7-for-27 (25.9 percent) shooting from the field. Considering VanVleet is averaging over 19 points per game this season, this recent stretch would support the notion that he has not been himself as of late.
Still, he refuses to make excuses.
"I'm not in the excuse-making business so I'll leave it at that," VanVleet added. "But it definitely was a rough night all around the board for me, just couldn't find a flow or a rhythm or feel good at any point of the game so, I sucked tonight, my body sucked tonight and that's probably one of the reasons why we lost."
Despite his rough shooting, VanVleet still impacted the game in other ways, pulling down six rebounds and dishing out five assists against the Nets. His physical status is worth monitoring as Toronto is just 1.5 games out of the East's final Play-In spot with 10 games remaining in the season.
Further complicating things is that the team is set to embark upon yet another difficult stretch in the coming days.
On Wednesday, the team travels west to begin a stretch of four games against playoff teams in six days, beginning with the Denver Nuggets on Thursday, April 29 at 9:00 p.m. ET on Sportsnet. A bounce-back performance from VanVleet could be just what the Raptors need to start the trip off on the right foot.
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