Raps’ Ibaka to play vs. Celtics despite ankle issue

Toronto Raptors forward Serge Ibaka will be available to play in Wednesday’s crucial Game 6 against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals, coach Nick Nurse said in his pregame availability.

Ibaka was listed on the injury report with a sprained left ankle and was in a walking boot while he addressed the media on Tuesday.

Nurse said Ibaka was “OK” and said there won’t be any limitations on him.

The Raptors will need everything Ibaka can give them as the defending champs try to avoid elimination, down 3-2. Toronto lost the first two games of the series before bouncing back with OG Anunoby’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer in Game 3 and another win in Game 4.

Ibaka, who has not started any games for the Raptors in this playoffs but serves as a key figure on the bench, is averaging 11.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game against Boston this series while shooting 51.2% overall and 50.0% from 3-point range. He also had three 20-point games in the Raptors’ first-round sweep against the Brooklyn Nets.

On Tuesday, Raptors guard Fred VanVleet said he was confident that Ibaka was going to play because of how well Ibaka takes care of himself.

“Obviously we need him out there,” VanVleet said on Tuesday afternoon. “I haven’t spoken to him about how he’s feeling or anything, but just knowing him personally, I would be surprised if he wasn’t out there. Serge is probably the best I’ve ever seen at taking care of his body and recovering and following his routine. Hopefully he can get back feeling good today and be ready for us tomorrow.”

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