VanVleet gets stitches as Raptors extend NBA Finals lead to 3-1


Fred VanVleet drives toward the basket against Ibby Djimde in the second half of Friday’s game against Southern Illinois. The Shockers won 56-45 and advance to the semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo.

The Toronto Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors on Friday, 105-92, to take a 3-1 series lead.

Former Wichita State guard Fred VanVleet recorded eight points, six assists, and four rebounds in 29 minutes of limited action, due to injury. With 9:35 left in the game, VanVleet took an elbow from Golden State’s Sean Livingston, leaving a cut around his right eye. ESPN’s Dorris Burke reported in-game that VanVleet received seven stitches and did not have a concussion. He also lost a tooth. The former NCAA All-American returned to the bench to watch the conclusion of the game, but did not play.

Even in limited minutes, VanVleet did break the Wichita State-NBA Finals scoring record in a series. He’s scored 51 points thru four games. He finished the night with the team’s second-best plus/minus rating. The Raptors outscored the Warriors by 12 while he was on the floor.

For the first time this series, someone other than VanVleet scored in double-figures off the bench. Toronto’s Serge Ibaka scored 20 points, while Golden State’s Kevon Looney scored 10 points of his own.

After scoring a playoff career-high 47 points in Game Three, Warriors superstar Stephen Curry struggled to find rhythm, scoring a quiet 27 points on 9-22 shooting, including 2-9 from three-point range. Klay Thompson returned to the lineup after missing the last game, and scored a team-high 28 points.

All series, VanVleet’s defense has been an x-factor against Curry. Coming into this Game Four, Curry had just shot 34.1 percent (15-44) from the field, and 30 percent (6-20) from three-point range while VanVleet was guarding, or on the floor. With him off the floor, the All-NBA point guard was lighting up the Raptors defense, shooting 59.1 percent (13-22), including 53.8 percent (7-13) from three. On Friday, VanVleet’s effort once again bothered Curry; one reason for his off-shooting night.

Up next, the Raptors can wrap up the series in Toronto on Monday. A win would lock up the franchise’s first ever NBA title. Tip off is set for 8:00 p.m. CT, and will be broadcasted on ABC. Toronto opens up as 3.0 point favorites in that Game Five.