Fred VanVleet finding rhythm after COVID-list stint

Fred VanVleet knows there’s still work to be done in re-conditioning himself to mid-season form after his bout with COVID-19. But he’s not making any excuses. VanVleet spoke about his performance and playing in a virtually empty Scotiabank Arena after the Raptors’ win over the Clippers.

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Video Transcript

FRED VANFLEET: Nope. Doesn't want to go. See, there you go.

- When's the last time you punched yourself in the head on the court?

FRED VANFLEET: Not too-- not too long ago. One of them games, I punched myself a little too hard, though. I was-- probably made myself dizzy. But, man, I was getting some good looks. I was frustrated, and so-- I'm hard on myself.

- Just legs?

FRED VANFLEET: Yeah, just jello legs. My timing was off. My release was a little off, a little slow. But, you know, it's part of the process. So I worked myself back in, I was happy with the way we kept fighting, and we just was able to come out and get the victory.

- Thoughts on what the environment was like? It was really weird for us because we had never experienced that. What was it like for you guys?

FRED VANFLEET: I mean, that was more normal than not, to be honest with you. Like, I didn't even think about it till, you know, we were just talking about it in the locker room. So I don't know the numbers, but I would say we probably played just as much, if not more fan-less basketball than we have packed stadiums.

So it is what it is. I'm not going to make too many excuses or dwell on the challenges and the adversity that we're facing, but, you know, we'll try to get as many wins as we can in this building, fans or no fans. We've got to go out there and play basketball. That's our job, and so we'll show up and do the best we can.

- You had some nice two-man action with Pascal, especially in the fourth quarter. [INAUDIBLE] corner for you. How fun was it to be able to do that again?

FRED VANFLEET: Yeah. I mean, it's just good to have, you know, most of your weapons-- obviously, still missing Scottie-- but just trying to get all your weapons back on the court, and then find the pieces and find the rhythm. So Pascal was creating an advantage, OG got hot there in the second half, and once we got into the bonus, I just liked the-- the match-up that they had on the block. They were switching, and worst case scenario, those guys were going to the line and making the right plays out.

So just-- you know, I was definitely tired, so it was a good thing that those guys were able to step up and make some plays so I still had some juice for those last couple of buckets. But just running that side, the two-man game with the switch, is something we've been working on this year.

- And not to belabor this, but coming back this time compared to coming back last time felt better or--

FRED VANFLEET: Yeah. I mean, physically speaking, yeah, for sure. A lot better. A lot easier. Again, this just felt like I was sitting at home for seven or eight days. It didn't feel like last year, that Detroit game when I felt like my muscles were falling off the bone.

I could-- you know, the sickness was just definitely more intense and took more of a toll on my body. So the scary part is the unknown. You know, the scientists can't even tell us what the effects are going to be. So you just go out there and do the work that you can and hope for the best.

- Just one question for you online, Fred.

FRED VANFLEET: OK.

- Go ahead, Adam.

- Hey, Fred. You've been generating a bit of all-star buzz this year amongst the Raptors fan base. Sort of-- what does that mean to you, and, sort of, do you think about that at all? Obviously, not during the game, but-- but afterwards, sort of what does that mean to you?

FRED VANFLEET: Yeah, it means a lot. You know, I'm honored that our fan base has been showing up in the digital campaign, whatever, with the fan votes. It means a lot to me that I am getting that attention and that respect from our fan base. Again, I don't really play for those type of things, but I feel like I've done my job up until this point.

I put together a heck of a season so far. I wish it was resulting in more wins, but, you know, all we got to do is get hot here and we'll see what happens. So-- I was pretty close last year and we'll see what happens this year. I'm going to continue to put the team first and put winning first and see where all those accolades and accomplishments fall at. But, you know, I don't think I need to tell you guys how I feel about myself.

So again, I have great teammates, great coaching staff, great organization that believes in me, and the fan base has definitely been carrying that wave on the internet so far, for sure.

- All right, thank you.

FRED VANFLEET: Thank you.

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