Toronto’s Fred VanVleet was mired in a deep shooting slump before his first son was born between Games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. In the 10 contests before the miraculous event, Vanvleet shot 7-for-44, including 3-for-25 behind the arc. There was no reason for him to be on the floor. Now Nick Nurse can’t keep him off it.
Vanvleet poured in 21 points in the Raptors’ Game 5 victory in Milwaukee last night, improving on the 13-point outburst he put up in his slump-busting effort Tuesday. Since little Fred Jr. entered the world, the third-year guard from Wichita State is 12-for-19 from the field and an absurd 10-for-12 from three-point land.
This is movie stuff. Super sappy movie stuff at that. But how else does one explain it? And if you say pure randomness of a round ball going through a round hoop based on probability, just stop. No one likes a literalist.
Vanvleet’s whirlwind schedule has taken him from Toronto to Rockford, Illinois to Toronto to Milwaukee to Rockford back to Milwaukee in the span of a few days. It’s seen him get precious little sleep, have his entire world changed, and play his most important basketball.
He told the story one last time during the postgame — and it’s a good one.
Of all the stars and emerging stars in the Bucks-Raptors series, there’s an argument to be made that VanVleet has been the most important player. They’ve desperately needed him and he’s delivered when called upon, over and over again.
Probably not all Fred Jr.’s doing, but he’s certainly helped.