Fred VanVleet on mindset heading into Game 4: ‘Our pride is on the line’

Fred VanVleet commended Toronto’s team defense and effort overall in Game 3 while bemoaning the Raptors’ inability to finish off the Sixers in closing time of a pivotal playoff contest. Follow our Raptors coverage all season long on Yahoo Sports Canada.

Video Transcript

- This was [INAUDIBLE] OK? Are you [INAUDIBLE] just the game [INAUDIBLE] pleased with how it showed up?

FRED VANVLEET: Yeah, I thought we fought, we fought really hard. Showed the compete level that it takes. It only took us two games to get there, but I'm proud of the guys and the way that we fought.

We raised our intensity, level of attention to detail was a little bit better. We made some plays offensively. Again, generating shots hasn't really been our issue in this series. It's been our defense. And I thought our defense was a lot better tonight. But yeah, in terms of closing out a game and executing down the stretch, that's probably as bad as it gets.

- [INAUDIBLE] considering you led virtually all of the game and doing all the things you wanted to do?

FRED VANVLEET: I mean, it's tough. It's tough for sure. But again, can't get it back now. We've got to stand up, look ourselves in the mirror, get some rest, recover, and go lace them up again. So you can't really cry about it. We have nobody to blame but ourselves.

We fought hard enough, we just didn't do enough. This time of year, it's-- effort and running around and playing hard is not going to get it done. You got to bring all levels to the game, all aspects to the game, you've got to play a complete game. And we just didn't do that tonight.

- [INAUDIBLE] struggles and distractions for our [INAUDIBLE] half-court offense [INAUDIBLE]?

FRED VANVLEET: I mean, the fourth quarter was 21-20 and OT was 9-6, so it's playoffs. It's playoffs, it's ugly out there sometimes. Again, a couple of free throws, a couple of shots go our way, that shot doesn't go in. Who knows? You know, then you probably wouldn't be asking that question. So it's easy to look at that after an L.

But you know, it's ugly this time of year. People are fighting or locked in. It's hard to get free. It's hard to run all your stuff, they know what you're going to run. Again, there wasn't really too many possessions where we didn't get a shot off or a look off. It might not have been the greatest, but just didn't convert them.

- What did you see from Pascal in the second half? Are they doing anything differently on him or was it just one of those nights?

FRED VANVLEET: They're showing him a lot of attention. And again, you know, you've got to really break down the entire game. OG is getting a lot of space and opportunity. Gary, it was great to have him back, seeing a lot of space and opportunity. So at this point of the year, Pascal is doing his job. He's drawing the crowd, he's going to get all the defensive attention. So he didn't have a excellent shooting night but I thought he was still aggressive getting to his spots and kicking out and bringing enough attention.

- What did you make of a [INAUDIBLE] player is Embiid that's a guy you faced in the playoffs four years ago?

FRED VANVLEET: Yeah, he's about three years better. For a guy that's gotten better seemingly every year he's played, he's at a really high level right now. You know, I thought Precious did a solid job on him for most of the game. But he was able to get eight and kind of impose his will. He made a couple of tough jumpers and obviously the last one. So we got to do a better job on him.

- You say anything to Precious? That he has the incredible highs of 20 points and then he misses those free throws of the game. You mentioned his defense. Went through the ups and downs of his game. What did you think of that?

FRED VANVLEET: Yes, that's the heartbreak of this game. That's what makes it so great. You know, he's a huge reason why we were even in the picture tonight. With his defense, his cutting to the rim, he made a couple-- what, he made two threes maybe.

Yeah, threw two threes in there, had a couple-- had a blocked shot, a couple of big dunks, he's 9-11 from the field. Off the bench, that's incredible. So, for a young guy to have a breakout performance like that in the playoffs is big for him. Know he'll lose some sleep over the free throws as we all do. We've all been there and you got to bounce back even better from it.

- How do you reconcile the disappointment of losing a game like this and being down in the series with some of these positives of like Precious growing out there, and Gary growing, and OG growing, and it sounds like Scottie could be back on Saturday and have another game of playoff experience. Is it kind of tough to strike that balance?

FRED VANVLEET: Yeah, well there's no moral victories right now. You know, we can sit back once it's all said and done and appreciate and have an optimistic perspective. But right now, we're still in the trenches, we're still in the fight. We got to bring even more fight in a couple of days. And there's no room to look around and feel sorry for ourselves.

So we did a lot of good things tonight. We played a lot of minutes of great basketball. And we're going to have to do it again and bring even more fight, even more intensity, more execution. And we're playing for our pride, our pride is on the line.

- Apologies if this has been asked, but what did you think of the job that Malachi did on in Harden [INAUDIBLE]?

FRED VANVLEET: Yes, he was big. Mali gave us some big minutes tonight. Being able to come in and kind of give us a stretch. I thought we won a lot of those minutes that he was in there. He was a plus 4 maybe. Yeah, he's a plus 4 on the night.

They were constantly running him up trying to get that switch. And he did a great job on Harden, drew a couple of fouls, and was able to get away with some nice rebounds, and get deflections, and stuff like that. So he was big for us off the bench in those stretches.


- Thanks, man.

- Thanks, Fred.

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