Fred VanVleet isn’t back just yet. But, for a brief moment last night in Game 5, it looked like he had returned to form, and that made all the difference for the Raptors. Let’s be clear: Fred VanVleet isn’t actually back.
For two consecutive years now VanVleet has been one of the league’s premier reserves, able to function as a good shepherd for the offense in bench units and as an elite fifth guy when playing alongside stars. VanVleet has been horrific in this playoff series whether operating in either role: he’s decidedly lost his minutes, even when paired with Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard. He’s been unable to hit shots when spacing off the ball, and has been downright abysmal with the ball in his hands. VanVleet was crucial for the Raptors all year, but he’s been the Raptors’ worst player in this series. That didn’t really change in the Raptors’ 125-89 win over the Sixers in Game 5. VanVleet scored just five points on five shots, had only a single assist to go against two turnovers, and managed the worst plus/minus of any Raptors’ rotation player. He was decidedly not back.
Author: Jacob M. Mack / Raptors HQ