CLEVELAND — Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas(Jonas Valanciunas Jersey) checked in Wednesday night with 6:05 left in the first quarter of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, playing for the first time since Game 3 of the second round of the playoffs.
Valanciunas had missed eight games because of a sprained right ankle. He was active and available for Game 4 but did not play.
Asked before the game how close he was to 100 percent, Valanciunas smiled and replied, “Close. No, I’m ready to go. Percentage-wise, the ankle doesn’t tell you that. I’m just ready to go.”
Raptors coach Dwane Casey said Tuesday he would like to get his 7-footer some minutes, but it depended on matchups.
“Hopefully we can get him involved, but it depends on the lineup they have on the court,” Casey said. “I know he’s our starting center, but it’s tough to put him out there if they’re playing Channing Frye big minutes at the 5. We just have to make sure that he has a matchup, and he’s not out there chasing 3-point shooters all over the perimeter.
“But if he does get called, we’ve got to be able to make them pay and have him in the paint, posting up and getting touches down there. And also, too, he’s going to be valuable for us because he is an excellent passer and can make plays at the top of the key.”
Valanciunas was averaging 15 points and 12.1 rebounds before getting hurt in Game 3 of the team’s second-round series with the Miami Heat. Reserve Bismack Biyombo has filled in admirably with Valanciunas out.