A fired up Fred VanVleet contributed way beyond what the box score showed in the win over the Bucks. He single-handedly ensure the Raptors held onto their momentum.
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FRED VANVLEET: You got a box for it? No? Thanks, Bruce. Does this come off? There we go.
- You said yesterday you weren't [INAUDIBLE], and today you're out [INAUDIBLE] and all that.
FRED VANVLEET: Hey, man, when I'm in between those lines, anything can happen, so, yeah, that was just one of those moments, playing so hard, working so hard. Obviously given the circumstances, I think everybody in the building deserved that win, including the players. So I just want to give us some energy and some momentum going into those last two or three minutes.
- I know perhaps a third party was involved, but [INAUDIBLE] going at it with one another [INAUDIBLE], can you appreciate that at the moment, or is that something that you look back on after the game and say, man, that was tough [INAUDIBLE]?
FRED VANVLEET: No, it definitely got me going. I think they were showing a lot of attention early on. I was trying to get off of it early, and Pascal had it going in the first, so just kind of reset at half and just make sure I be aggressive. I know that we probably couldn't win without me being aggressive. So I got fouled or something late, and I was talking to the ref, and Drew chimed in. And then it was just-- it was on from there.
So obviously he's one of the best in the league on both ends of the floor and somebody that I have a lot of respect and admiration for, and he made it tough on me tonight. But, you know, just happy that we were able to come out with the win.
- You mentioned that they were sending blitzes at you in the first half and other guys were knocking down shots. How were you able to free yourself off as much as you did in the second?
FRED VANVLEET: I think we just-- we changed up a little bit of the action a little bit, get me off the ball, scored on some baseline underneath plays, on some pin ins, just shake free and just stay with the game. You know, sometimes those openings will open up if you stay patient and just stay ready and stay confident.
So the shots came, and, you know, I was able to knock them down. My teammates set great screens for me, got me the ball in spots, and I was able to get a rhythm.
- Did the shoe change help?
FRED VANVLEET: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, there was not many buckets in the yellow ones. So I have to figure that out going forward. But the second half shoes were an upgrade for sure.
- Fred, I mean, how much of a point [INAUDIBLE] of winning this game at home did you make going into the game? I know you want to win them all, but--
FRED VANVLEET: Yeah, to be honest with you, Mike, not much, man. Not much. Like, you know, the way it's been over the last couple of weeks and kind of the run that we've had, I'm just more focused on keeping the guys' morale up and keeping the guys together and understanding that it's a very long year, and there's going to be ups and downs.
And, you know, you come into the season, and you say, patience, patience, and all of those things. And then you go two and eight over a stretch or whatever we went, and, you know, all of those things go out the window. So just trying to think big picture, understanding that we just got to give ourselves a chance to win every night. And as long as we do that, I think we'll feel OK.
And tonight I think that we play well enough to win, and we deserve to win
- The plays you're making it in the second half, [INAUDIBLE] 26 in the second. I mean, is this as comfortable as you've felt just asserting yourself offensively, maybe since college kind of thing? Is this--
FRED VANVLEET: Yeah, it's coming together a little bit. And it's different every night, obviously. But I think, again, that plays into, like, the chemistry of the team, as well. You know, so for me to be able to kind of facilitate more in the first and then still be able to have the trust of the team and to be able to get my offense together in the second half, I think that just shows the chemistry that's building.
So there's a dynamic there for sure. I think a lot of our wins look similar, and it's something that we'll have to try to, you know, work on and continue to do, but one thing about young guys, when you play a really good team, they tend to fall in line. And when you play, quote-unquote, you know, questionable teams, it's every man for himself sometimes out there.
So that's a part of the inexperience and the youth that you got to grow with, so I never worry about, you know, the flow of the offense when we play, you know, the best of the best. It tends to find me.
- Nick talked about it both from a player's perspective-- you find out 30 minutes before the game that Giannis isn't playing. What's that like? How much of a scramble is it to sort of adjust the game plan on the fly there?
FRED VANVLEET: Not much. You don't flinch. In the back of your head, you just thank the man upstairs and, you know what I'm saying, you go out there and you try to get a win. But, you know, me being in this league for so long, like, that's something that you don't really show, right?
You know, the young guys, they need to understand it doesn't matter who's playing, but as somebody who's, you know, on my sixth season, you can appreciate that. But I watched the game last night, as well. I mean, I was in bed at 11 o'clock when that game finished, so I knew those guys were going to be gassed and tired coming in tonight. So, you know, it was important for us to be able to push the pace and be the aggressors and just see how much they had in the tank.
But, you know, that championship pedigree is-- they fought to the last 0.7 for sure.
- Do you feel like the defense has looked better than it has recently?
FRED VANVLEET: Yeah, it's getting there. It's some breakdowns and some lapses, but I think, you know, we're getting there. It was 93 tonight. Even in the loss the other night, I think it was 98. So, you know, holding teams under 100, that's hard to do in this league and something that we continue to work on. And I think that the coaches have been great in the fact that we're looking at the film every day.
And there's not much hiding and pampering going on. Like, it's some pretty honest and truthful film sessions, and that's the only way you can get better.
- I know there's a lot more to the game than hitting shots or not hitting shots, but when Nick is critical of Scotty for not taking threes in the last four games or whatever it is, he's taken five, six, eight, whatever. What does it say about him?
FRED VANVLEET: I think it just speaks to being accountable and being coachable, and that's part of this thing that we don't really talk about a lot. You know what I mean? We are very pampered, spoiled guys, and we make a lot of money. And, you know, everybody in our world is telling us how great we are. But sometimes you got to have people to tell you the truth, and you've got to be able to accept that.
So whether that's Nick pulling him after he threw that crazy behind-the-back pass or just telling him to shoot more, he steps up. And, you know, he's been-- he looks like, you know, he's been shooting all his life, right? So just being accountable, being coachable, and that's the best way to improve. And we got a lot of, like, upside to this team, and it's going to take growth every day.
And that's all you want to see. So I think we've seen that from a lot of guys across the board.
- In that first half, it looked like Scotty and Pascal were really finding each other a lot. Did it feel like this is a game where they're sort of taking steps forward and learning each other's tendencies?
FRED VANVLEET: Yeah, I think it just takes it more of a concerted effort to find that flow and that rhythm. And I think one thing that'll help both of those guys is getting pressures in the right spots because I know we're assigning them to play a five. You know, naturally, it's not really the way he plays, right? He's, like, another one of those forwards that kind of slashes, and, you know, he can shoot a little bit.
So I think if we get his spacing right and get him down there and [INAUDIBLE] dunker space in the baseline, I think that'll open the floor for both Pascal and Scotty, and, you know, it's December 2nd, right? Yeah, this takes time, man.
And I know it's hard sometimes when we're so used to winning, and we're so spoiled, and we won a championship not that long ago. But these things take time. This group hasn't played together much at all.
- When you talk about players being coachable, you know what is it also say to take feedback from your own teammates like yourself, to be able to teach them a few tricks of the game?
FRED VANVLEET: Yeah, that's the most important part, right? I mean, the coaches, they kind of-- they've got to pick their spots. That can be harder to do as a coach, but, you know, in the locker room, we're all equal as men. And we have to be accountable to each other first and foremost. And so I'm certainly a guy that doesn't hold his tongue.
But at the same time, you know, if anybody ever corrected me, we'll talk about it. We'll look at the film and see how we can get better, and I think that's the only way to grow. So it takes time. We got a lot of, like, ranges of experience and youth and pedigree, so, you know, some of the younger guys, it's going to take some time to get used to, you know, being challenged every day and understanding that the standard is very high around here.
So I don't know if any of these guys asked to be in these positions where so much is being asked of them, but the situation is not changing any time soon. So we got to continue to grow.
- Thanks very much, Fred.
- Thank you.
- Thank you, everybody.
- Thanks, Fred.