How Fred VanVleet helped propel 21-0 Raptors run vs. Heat

=On the latest episode of "Strictly Hoops with C.J. Miles", Amit Mann and C.J. Miles look at how Fred VanVleet helped the Raptors make their late third-quarter surge vs. Miami and how player movement can help the Raptors' halfcourt offence. Listen to the full episode on the "Raptors Over Everything" podcast feed or watch on our YouTube channel.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: I wanted to talk a little bit about Fred VanVleet. But there was a stretch last night against the Heat where he was picking on Dewayne Dedmon. And I thought it was fascinating.

They're very small things, but with Dewayne Dedmon, big center, he's going to be in drop, right? And there was, like, a five, six-play stretch when coincidentally, the Raptors went on a 21-0 run where Fred was just like, we are going to expose you, sir. We're going to do this.

And so the first play was that they ran OG off a couple of stagger screens. And then he ended up getting a step-back jumper. Next play, same kind of thing. He runs a pindown. And again, Koloko, good screen. OG curls around the corner. He goes to the rim, gets a bucket.

Third play-- OK, they're doing it on the opposite side this time. Another pindown, but a fella-- what's his name on the Heat? I forgot his name already. He doesn't play too much. Anyways, he tries to jump the screen. So OG goes backdoor-- alley-oop.

Fourth play-- OK, fourth play, all of a sudden, there it is. Like, OK, let Fred just do his thing. We're going to hope that he just-- we hedge, and hopefully, he doesn't make the shot. He hits the shot.

The next play, OK, now, they're like, OK, we've got to do something because Fred's killing us. We're going to start trapping Fred at the top of the level. He gets through the screen, finds Scottie Barnes for a layup.

Fred VanVleet, like, we talk about the Raptors half-court offense. But those are those in the moment things where he is making offense happen. And it's just from the unagi right here, from the head. And it's that Kyle Lowry gene. Fred's developing that gene in his own way.

He's using his own gravitational pull. Not like Steph, but he's using that head of his to say, this is how we're going to create advantages. This is how we're going to score.

CJ MILES: Yeah, it's like we talked about-- his value is not always in numbers. Because even if he's missing those shots, those are the right plays. And he's going to-- most of the time, you're going to make those shots because they're the right play, or you're going to find a way to get somebody else a better shot by making the right play.

But the biggest thing is just the understanding, and the minutes that it takes to get to that, and the film it takes to watch doing that, and understanding the other team's coverages-- the way they like to guard, the way they want to guard. These things are so important because now, I could just pick on you throughout the game. And I'm going to make you do something that you're not used to doing. Now, I really got you messed up.

Because now, I got Dedmon out trying to trap, and trying to hedge high when he wants to be in the drop. I know he's got slow feet. I know you don't want to switch. I know you don't want a big on a small.

Or I know with the OG situation, that you don't want to switch that guy when OG comes off a screen. I know these things. So I'm going to run at you as much as I can until you decide either you're going to put small guys in and switch everything, and then we'll do something else, or I'm going to score.

AMIT MANN: OK, I wanted to get your thoughts on this because there have been conversations around the Raptors' half-court offense, and the ups and downs. And when Pascal goes out, he is the guy, right? We know this. He is the man.

But when he goes out, things look a little bit different. And you start picking holes in the Raptors offense. We know their ethos. They look for disadvantages-- or advantages, whether it be post ups, in the half-court, whatever. Drop coverage-- Fred loves to expose that. He did it yesterday against Dewayne Dedmon, which we're going to get to in a second here.

But when the advantages aren't there as much-- and this is where we get into those matchups against, like, a Boston, who are just so fundamentally sound with their one-on-one defense, the Raptors look very different in the half-court, right? What are your thoughts on their mindset?

And do you think it's, like, a sustainable way to win games, especially late in the postseason? Because I think that is part of why they're doing this. They think that, hey, in the end, when each team knows each other's sets in the playoffs-- Game 6, Game 7, you guys know each other. It's about who executes better. Your advantages are the thing that are going to get you through.

CJ MILES: Yeah, so like we're saying, not running a lot of sets, playing an open style of basketball with some younger guys mixed in that rotation, and some guys that haven't been primary ball handlers before, it can get stagnant. Because guys aren't decisive all the time. And then when you've got guys that are really good, like Pascal or like Scottie, and even Fred sometimes, that kind of can get into isos because they feel like there's nothing going on, or the clock gets low, it can get like that.

There has to be constant movement. But the movement has to be with a purpose, meaning the back side movement. Guys have got to understand-- a guy's got to understand his own strength and the players' he's on the floor with strengths, meaning-- like, when I was on the floor, me knowing that I was a floor spacer, and there was not going to be help off of me because of that, being able to shoot the ball, I moved in ways that allowed guys to play to their strengths. So if I was in the corner and they were running a pick and roll with Jakob or Pascal or JV, I would move. I would time my movements to make sure guys couldn't tag the roller, they couldn't stop the guy from getting a dunk, or to make him make a decision-- either you stay home with me and I get an open 3, or JV gets a dunk.

I think the more and more they can figure out themselves and each other, the more and more you can look at the game that way with the movement. And even in isos, quicker decisions. We talked about the dunk that OG gets from the corner in the Detroit game. That's an iso. It's just not dancing with the ball.

Dalano pushes, makes a pass, cuts through. OG makes a decision right away. I got an angle, I drive it. If they cut me off, then it's another pass, and it's another drive. Touch the paint, make defenses move. The other guys move in so there's not help. I'm trying not to get too fast with what I'm saying, but--

AMIT MANN: No, I get what you're saying.

CJ MILES: --the more movement, the more you can keep guys off the help positions. So like Boston, who you say they're a great half-court defensive team because they get in a shell, they show bodies, they clog the lane, like teams are doing to Pascal and Scottie. The more those guys on the back side can move and screen and do things, the less time that Marcus Smart can spend on the nail and get steals when somebody drives.


CJ MILES: And that's the main point of that type of offense-- to keep guys in constant movement, and you don't have set places where guys have to be when you run set plays.

AMIT MANN: And that's the advantage of the read and react kind of offense that the Raptors are trying to do. How do you learn to move with purpose? [CHUCKLES] What are the keys to doing that? How do you do it?

CJ MILES: Obviously minutes, playing time, so we can bring back film from the playing time to show you more things, and more times where you could have moved or you shouldn't have moved. And then just drilling it. Like, when I was there in practice, we 5-on-0'd, like, with no defense so much, just to get guys in a rhythm with each other, understanding the different type of options that you can do and see, just understanding the spacing on the floor, the way it looks. And then when we scrimmage and we do things, like, obviously there's different ways to drill that, too.

But we just literally repped it and repped it and repped it. And it's early in the season, which is why this will grow as the season goes. And you get to keep-- Nick gets to keep a bunch of sets for himself. As the season goes, you try 'em out here and there so they're not overly scouted.

But in the playoffs, it's about who can make a play. It doesn't matter what sets I call when they know 'em all, and there's always going to be the best defender, the best units on the floor. Guys are playing until they're gassed out. There's no second-- first and second units. It's who's playing well right now. We need to be able to make plays.