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Raptors’ Fred VanVleet won’t make much of bounce-back Game 4 vs. Bucks

Fred VanVleet, Raptors

The Toronto Raptors have gone from being one of the best teams in the NBA when it comes to bench production to one that has struggled to get shots to fall from the second unit. That narrative changed in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks, as Fred VanVleet had his best game of the postseason after a playoff run to forget.

VanVleet, who backs up starter Kyle Lowry and at times takes on the off-guard position, is still shooting under 30% from the field through this playoff run, even after going 5-of-6 overall and 3-of-3 on 3-pointers in Game 4. The guard knows his struggles have been obvious:

“(People) know I’ve been struggling. It’s not rocket science,” said VanVleet after finishing with 13 points and six assists on Tuesday’s 120-102 win over the Bucks, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN. “I don’t run from it, I don’t hide from it. I know I have to play better. I’m accountable and I try to take it on the chest. My teammates are there for me, they want to see me win, they want to see me play well.”

VanVleet won’t make much of one game’s performance, hoping to bring some consistency moving forward:

“Obviously it’s been rough shooting the ball,” said VanVleet. “I had a pretty bad stretch, so it was good to see one go in. But you guys know me, it’s one game… Try to get some consistency and bottle it up.

“I expect more of myself. It’s tough to not play up to standards and be caught up in a bunch of different reasons that nobody really cares about. That’s just the circumstance I’m in. So just gotta keep focused, keep working.

“The fact that I don’t get benched and they still throw the ball to me in certain spots and guys are standing in your corner, that’s what means the most. To have the respect and to have the guys who mean the most to you in your corner, it allows you to keep pushing forward.”

The Raptors got a big punch from their bench, as Serge Ibaka, Norman Powell and VanVleet provided all the firepower Toronto needed to tie affairs at two games apiece before coach Nick Nurse emptied the rest of his bench for garbage time.