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Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet has struggled for large stretches of the playoffs, but came up huge when his team needed him the most in a 120-102 rout of the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 4.
And there’s good reason for his sudden change in form.
VanVleet, who went 3-of-3 from the three-point line and finished with 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting, credited the birth of his son on Monday for his strong performance.
The young man will have plenty to live up to as VanVleet’s child was named Fred Jr., according to Blake Murphy of The Athletic.
"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,” VanVleet said of his playoff struggles, according to TSN’s Josh Lewenberg.
“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.”
VanVleet shot a ghastly 12.9 percent from the field during the Raptors’ second-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers and seemingly lost his confidence throughout the postseason. His performance in Game 4 underscores how poorly he played in a Game 3 double overtime win against the Bucks, where he went 1-of-11.
Inspiration comes in many forms, however, and the Raptors will have to hope that Fred Jr. pushes the new-Fred Sr. to be at his absolute best, as the most important series in franchise history boils down to a best-of-three.
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