WASHINGTON — Fred VanVleet doesn't sound like he'll be ready to return to the Toronto Raptors' lineup any time soon.
The backup guard reportedly suffered a sprained AC joint — or separated shoulder — in the Raptors' season finale against Miami, when he ran into Bam Adebayo when the Heat's big man was setting a screen.
The Raptors have listed him as day to day, and he wasn't in the lineup in Sunday's Game 4 in Washington.
Part of the concern, VanVleet said, is the risk of re-injury, should he take a hard hit.
"That'll be the risk for six more weeks," VanVleet said. "Kyle (Lowry) took a crazy Flagrant 1 when we were at home. I was kind of cringing (thinking) if that was my shoulder. Those types of things happen: chasing guys off of screens, (dribble handoffs). I've just got to get a point where I can do those things comfortably. It will be painful for a while.
"The risk of re-injuring will be the same today probably as it will be for a few weeks. That's not the concern so much as not being limited out there. Me at 50 per cent, that won't help anybody."
VanVleet tried to play in Game 2 of the series, but he lasted less than three minutes.
Asked what specifically he was unable to do on the floor, VanVleet said: "Probably everything.
"And the problem for me was that I can shoot through the pain, but passing, dribbling, running, fighting through screens, a little bit of everything was just uncomfortable, and the pain is probably not the problem, just the lack of range, and strength would probably be the other biggest thing," VanVleet said.
The 24-year-old was a key part of Toronto's second unit that was excellent all season, but has struggled in this playoff series.
VanVleet spoke to reporters in the locker-room ahead of Game 4, and wore a portable ultrasound under his shirt in the pre-game locker-room Sunday
"I've been getting ultrasound treatments multiple times a day," he said. "It's portable so I can work out with it on, to kind of calm the tissue down."
He said he feels "a hundred times better" than he did the night he suffered the injury.
"And that's the problem. That's kind of why you saw me in Game 2. I was starting at negative 100, I got to zero and felt like I was at 100," he said. "The pain from that point on has gotten better with each day. I'm obviously still restricted in some areas. As long as can get to the point where I can play my game without dragging, that's the goal thing for me."
In the meantime, he's working mostly on conditioning, and joked about how little he enjoys it.
"Just about as much as I enjoy talking to you guys. Take that for what it's worth," he laughed. "But gotta stay in shape . . . I'm not the greatest lover of conditioning, but got to stay in shape, and obviously this is not going to be something where it's months and months and months hopefully, but in the meantime, just try to stay ready so I can come back and plug right back in."
VanVleet averaged 8.6 points and 3.2 assists in the regular season, and shot 41 per cent from three-point range.