Toronto’s Fred VanVleet’s playoff performance inspired by newborn

MILWAUKEE — Through seven games of the Eastern Conference semifinals and the first three games of the conference finals, Toronto’s Fred VanVleet lost his shooting touch.

In 10 games, he made just 7-of-44 shots, including 3-for-25 on 3-pointers — 1-for 11, 0-for-5, 0-for-7, 1-for-4.

"You guys know it's been a rough playoff stretch shooting the ball for me," VanVleet said. "Everything else has been fine in my opinion, but just shooting the ball has been a little rough."

Then, between Games 3 and 4, with the Raptors trailing Milwaukee 2-1 in the conference finals, VanVleet’s son, Fred Jr., was born.

Running on the adrenaline of a newborn, the competition of the NBA playoffs and little sleep, VanVleet all of sudden can’t miss.

Fred VanVleet scored 21 points and hit seven 3s in the Raptors' Game 5 win. (Photo: Benny Sieu, USA TODAY Sports)

In Game 4, he scored 13 points, and in Toronto’s 105-99 victory in Game 5 on Thursday, he scored 21 points on seven three-pointers. In those two victories, which helped the Raptors take a 3-2 series lead, VanVleet is 12-for-19 from the field and 10-for-12 on three-pointers. 

"Zero sleep, have a lot of babies, and go out there and let loose," VanVleet said.

Said Raptors coach Nick Nurse: "Whatever he's doing he did the last couple days, he needs to keep doing. … He was kind of due for one of these nights because we know he's a good shooter."

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With VanVleet on the court in the past two games, Toronto has outscored Milwaukee by 53 points.

In the postgame news conference, a reporter asked VanVleet to detail his week.

"As long as you promise it's the last time I've got to tell this story," he responded.

He gave a 277-word answer. His partner was due May 31, but their first child was born three weeks early.

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