He’s been to the IHSA State Tournament. He’s been to the NCAA Final Four. Now add the NBA Finals to Fred VanVleet’s list of achievements. The Rockford native and the Toronto Raptors clinched a trip to the Finals Saturday night by finishing off the Milwaukee Bucks 100-94.
VanVleet played a major role again for the Raptors. He scored 14 points off the bench in 34 minutes. He again had a hot shooting night. He made 5 of 6 shots from the field including 4 of 5 from three-point range.
The Bucks set the tone early leading 31-18 after the first quarter. The Bucks still had a comfortable 15 point lead late in the third quarter, but the Raptors dug down and outscored the Bucks 29-18 in the fourth quarter.
“Obviously we’re all pretty excited right now,” said VanVleet to reporters huddled around him after the game. “To do it in the fashion that we had to do it back-to-back games being down double digits, fighting back, clawing and scratching…a total team effort.”
Kawhi Leonard once again led the Raptors by scoring 27 points. He also added 17 rebounds and seven assists. Kyle Lowry chipped in with 17 points.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 21 points.
VanVleet over the last three games of the series scored 48 points on 17-25 (68%) shooting from the field and 14-17 (82%) shooting from three-point range.
The Raptors are headed to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history making it all the sweater for VanVleet and his teammates. “It’s a hell of a story man,” said VanVleet. “A hell of a story. Obviously what this franchise has been through since its inception in terms of its basketball growth, and it’s a heck of a story to be going to the Finals and a chance to win it all.”
The Raptors will face the Golden State Warriors who are making their fifth straight trip to the Finals. “It doesn’t get easier from here,” said VanVleet. “But we’ve done the work thus far and not it’s time to try to get locked-in and try to prepare for these guys.”
Game one will be played Thursday night in Toronto. That game and every game of the series will be shown on WTVO (ABC).
NBA FINALS ON WTVO
Game 1: Thur, May 30, Golden State at Toronto | 8 CT (ABC)
Game 2: Sun, June 2, Golden State at Toronto | 7 CT (ABC)
Game 3: Wed, June 5, Toronto at Golden State | 8 CT (ABC)
Game 4: Fri, June 7, Toronto at Golden State | 8 CT (ABC)
*Game 5: Mon, June 10, Golden State at Toronto | 8 CT (ABC)
*Game 6: Thur, June 13, Toronto at Golden State | 8 CT (ABC)
*Game 7: Sun, June 16, Golden State at Toronto | 7 CT (ABC)