Fred Van Vleet has overcome a lot of obstacles in his life to reach where he is now playing in the NBA playoffs, so he’s not about to let a couple missed shots stop him from betting on himself.
The Rockford native missed a three point attempt at the end of regulation and another at the end of overtime Tuesday night in the Toronto Raptors’ 113-112 game one loss to the Cavs. If either one had fallen the Raptors’ would have taken the early lead in the series.
Van Vleet made it clear to reporters Wednesday that he has shaken off those missed opportunities.
“I’ve got thick skin. I’m going to take those shots every time and if you don’t want me to take them don’t put me out there. Don’t pass it to me because it’s going up if I get it and it’s the right shot.” “You know it’s over with. That was yesterday. The same situation coming up I’ll step right in and shoot them again.”
His teammates also have confidence in Van Vleet. It was DeMar DeRozan who passed the ball out to Van Vleet for the shot at the end of regulation.
“If we’re in that same situation again I’d make that same exact pass,” said DeRozan during a post game press conference. “It’s not just me trusting him. Every single guy on this team, coaching staff trusts him in the moment. That’s why he’s in the game late in the game. He’s got tough skin. He’s going to bounce back and respond from it.”
Van Vleet was one of the more accurate three point shooters in the NBA this season. He made 41.4% from behind the arc.
Van Vleet also drew a lot of attention in the second quarter of Tuesday’s game when he got into a shoving match with LeBron James under the Cavs’ basket. Van Vleet had to be restrained by his teammates from going after James. Van Vleet said Wednesday it was no big deal…just two competitors going at it.
“That’s just the game. Those things happen pushing and shoving. He pushed me. I was just trying to get my push back that’s all. Nothing crazy.”
Van Vleet played 15 minutes in game one. He finished with nine points, two assists and three rebounds. He fell hard on his right shoulder in the second half appearing to aggravate the injury he suffered at the end of the regular season. He downplayed that incident too saying the pain and shoulder didn’t bother him any more than it did in the Washington series and that it didn’t affect his shots at the end of the game Tuesday.
“I’m used to it. It’s just one of those things. Do I wish I wasn’t hurt? Yea, but I’m not looking for any excuses,” said Van Vleet. “I take and make those shots and those ones didn’t go in for me.”
Game two will be played Tuesday evening (5 p.m. central) in Toronto.