Raptors guard Fred VanVleet explains sudden change after poor start to playoffs
Toronto Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet had a postseason to forget after becoming the immediate backup of starter Kyle Lowry. His mission was a vital one, but he’s managed to bounce back formidably in the last two games of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks.
VanVleet bounced back from perhaps his worst outing of the postseason, a 1-of-11 shooting night that came in a fortuitous overtime win in Game 3. Upon returning for Game 4, this time as the father of his second child, the Wichita State product took matters into his own hands.
The 25-year-old put up 13 points and six assists in a 120-102 Game 4 blowout before exploding for 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc on Thursday during a rousing Game 5 victory to steal home-court advantage and put the Raptors one win away from the NBA Finals.
So is fatherhood the secret recipe for turning things around?
“I guess,” VanVleet said with a smile, after having missed practice due to his newborn, according to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “Zero sleep, have a lot of babies and go out there and let loose.”
“[You] keep just trusting the work and trusting your craft and knowing that, at some point, they’re going to drop.”
No one is more glad to see him bounce back than Lowry, who expected him to turn on the sprinkler system at some point in this postseason.
“We always say ‘next man up,’ and it’s been like that all year,” Lowry told ESPN. “Guys have done an unbelievable job preaching next man up, and tonight was Freddy’s night.”
“I never felt bad for him. I expect nothing but the best from him, and I expect him to keep doing that.”
VanVleet can now put all of his struggles behind by closing this series in smashing fashion, as another great game off the bench could power the Raptors to their first-ever NBA Finals appearance.