PHILADELPHIA — Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse said Monday before shootaround ahead of Game 2 against the Philadelphia 76ers that rookie forward Scottie Barnes won’t play, and that it was unlikely guard Gary Trent Jr. or Thaddeus Young would, either.
“Scottie’s out,” Nurse said. “Gary is not here for shootaround, he’s still doubtful and Thad is, I mean, he’s got some damage there in his thumb. They are going to try to tape him up here today and see what it looks like here shootaround, but I would imagine he’s doubtful, too.”
All three players had been listed as doubtful, as Nurse had said they would be following Sunday’s practice. Barnes suffered a left ankle sprain when 76ers star Joel Embiid accidentally stepped on his foot in the fourth quarter of Game 1, while Young sprained his left thumb in the second quarter. Trent played through a non-COVID illness that bothered him in the week leading up to the game and forced him to miss Sunday’s practice and Monday’s shootaround.
The focus Monday, though, was on Barnes, who appeared and spoke to the media for the first time since suffering the injury, and was wearing a large boot on his left foot.
Barnes, who went down in a heap and yelled in pain before getting to his feet after a few minutes and gingerly making his way off the court and to the locker room with some assistance when the injury happened, said he initially feared it would be far worse than an ankle sprain.
“I thought it was going to be bad, man,” Barnes said. “I hit the ground and I was like, ‘Damn. It’s just the beginning, just getting started.
“But, afterward, I was just still trying to have positive thoughts, and keep myself into it.”
One of the finalists for this year’s Rookie of the Year award, Barnes was arguably Toronto’s best player in Game 1, finishing with 15 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in 31 minutes before exiting with the injury.
He declined to give a timeline for his return, but said he multiple times he was feeling better each day.
“I don’t know,” he said with a smile, when asked when he could be back on the court. “Might be soon. We just have to see. Feeling better, though, each and every day.”
All of it adds up to a situation that’s far less than ideal for the Raptors, who came into this series, in the eyes of many observers, with a real shot of beating the favored 76ers, only to both get blown out in Game 1 and potentially lose three rotation players — including two starters — for Game 2.
But the team’s two veteran leaders, Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam, have reiterated over the past 24 hours that they’ve been in these types of situations plenty of times before, and that it’s up to them to rally the team together and move things forward in a positive direction entering Game 2.
“I think everyone roles kind of go up a little bit,” Siakam said. “There’s somebody that’s going to be there for Scottie, and somebody that’s going to be there for whoever’s not playing. So I think that everyone’s got to step up. We all got to step up. And those guys [are] a big part of our team.
“So, you know, weed them out, you know, obviously, we’re missing something. So people got to step up. We all got to step up.”
As far as who, specifically, will step up — and into the starting lineup in place of Barnes and Trent, assuming the latter also can’t play — Nurse declined to say who would do so.
“I’m just going to have to see all the way up to game time as who is actually going to be in there,” Nurse said. “[It] could go a lot of ways. It could be used in you know, bit minutes for a bunch of different guys. We’ll just have to wait and see on that.”