A huge reason the Raptors have struggled over the last few playoffs games was due to the absence of center Jonas Valanciunas. After missing the last seven games with a right ankle sprain, the 7-footer had his injury status upgraded to questionable for Game 4 in Toronto.
Coach Dwayne Casey told reporters, “we’ll see,” when asked about Valanciunas after Monday morning’s shootaround — he’s still dealing with a bit of soreness. Before going down with the injury, Jonas averaged 15 points, 12.1 rebounds, shot 55% from the field and made the Raptors a more efficient team on both ends of the floor.
Bismack Biyombo has done a fantastic job filling in during Valanciunas’ time out, but being a raw offensive player puts more strain on DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, who have struggled for a decent amount of the postseason. Valanciunas has a good low-post game and can even step out and hit a mid-range jump shot if necessary, something Biyombo lacks. What Biyombo doesn’t lack is wonderful energy, tenacity, and effort which allowed him to anchor the defensive end of the floor.
With Game 4 being such a crucial contest, it wouldn’t be odd to see Valanciunas play despite having some pain in his ankle; if Toronto were to lose the upcoming game, the series would effectively be over with two of the remaining games being played in Cleveland.