'I had a weird week. A death in the family, my birthday and the birth of my child': Fred VanVleet

Raptors guard Fred VanVleet discusses the new starting lineup, his thoughts on Will Barton and his life away from the court as his family welcomed their third child.

Video Transcript

- So what do you think of this new starting five?

FRED VANVLEET: Oh, it worked tonight.

- Yeah.

FRED VANVLEET: It worked tonight. Again, trying out new lineups this late in the season is-- you know, it's fun. So just gotta continue to work out the kinks on offense. I thought defensively was really good tonight. Thought we were really keyed in and together-- tied together.

The effort was there. The intensity was there. Created good shots. We got a little stagnant there, a little nasty. But, other than that, I mean, thought it was pretty good.

- Is Gary in your second unit? Pretty nice to have that offense in there.

FRED VANVLEET: Yeah, he's-- I mean, he's a starting-caliber player, obviously, you know what I mean? He's a really good player. He's great offensively. He was really active. He looked fresh. He had a pop to him tonight. He carried a big stretch there and-- for us to get a couple of key buckets, him and Chris. I mean, to get, you know, 19 from Gary and 9 from Chris, you still got that and Precious and Will-- obviously, we'll work Will in. So, you know, I like how that's starting to shape out a little bit.

- They called Scottie's fourth quarter "inspirational," like in terms of the defense and the blocks and all of that. When he's playing like that, how much do you guys feed off of it?

FRED VANVLEET: Yeah, it's special, man. He made a couple plays not many guys in this league can make, you know, the blocks, the push, the break, the and-one. He was just-- he was talking. He was keyed in, you know, and that's a big boost. And especially a lineup out there without me and Pascal, for him to carry that in the fourth and get us some separation there, that really won us the game, ultimately, was his defense and his playmaking and just putting pressure on the rim. So we need him to keep making those strides. We know how special of a player he can be, and he shows us that, you know, at times.

- Going up against Will over the years, what do you think of the addition? How much do you think he's gonna help down the stretch?

FRED VANVLEET: Yeah, I like it. I think the many as those guys we can get, you know what I mean? He's just a good player. He's a bucket-getter. He's a hooper. He's got some playoff experience. He's battle-tested.

He's done it at a high level. He's played on really good teams. So I think whether it's locker room or just the experience to help with some of the other guys, or just another guy that we can count on at any given night, he can get you 20 to 30 on any given night. I think that's a luxury to have coming off the bench.

- Fred the Bulls have a bunch of guards that get on the glass, like Beverley and Dosunmu. What was the focus from your end of just like, hey, those guys are really going to go get after it and you guys came up with a really good team rebounding effort?

FRED VANVLEET: Yeah, I think tonight was just more of a guard your own guy rebound, you know, box out your own guy type of night. There's other nights where we got big guys and we got to put two on a body or try to rotation or check out but. Tonight was just more like guard your yard. Obviously, with Zach and DeMar, we got to plug and help and then find your guy. So Dosunmu, Pat, obviously Caruso, all of those guys are crashing the glass and you just got to kind of box out your own guy.

- You mentioned having to put two on a big. How much does it simplify when you can put Jak on Vuc?

FRED VANVLEET: [LAUGHS] It helps. Yeah, it helps. It helps a lot. Again, Jak was great again tonight. He let a couple steal a couple of his rebounds, so his rebounds a little low. But other than that, it's just-- he's just a treat to have, obviously, on both ends of the floor.

- Fred, are you too looking forward to this little stage? I mean, tonight was a game that had some play-off, play-in applications. You got Wizards coming, and then all these games and the trip coming up against teams that are playing for something also.

FRED VANVLEET: Yeah, no doubt. It's great for us. You know, it's that time of year. And with the league on the 10 now, it's every game now is playoff implications and there's going to be a heightened sense of urgency for both sides from every team. And the teams that are locked in, they're still going to be trying to tighten up. It's just it's a little home stretch here. So it's great for us and it'll put us in good position and got to play good basketball going down the stretch.

So I'm excited for it. And I think that we've been playing pretty good basketball over the last couple of weeks. We've got to keep that up.

- Is this where that playoff experience for say Scottie and Precious, especially last season, can help them in these games with these high stakes?

FRED VANVLEET: Yeah, you would hope so. You would hope so. We definitely can give any of these away. And I think we all know the weight and value of each one.

So you could feel it tonight. It was kind of one of those games that could have went either way. And you know, I thought we just picked up our urgency a little bit in the second half and just did a little bit more to come out with the win.

And that's all that matters. You got to grade us on the wins and losses right now, and however we get them we get them. Tonight was a good one. And we got a tough Washington team coming up.

- Fred, you missed three games for the best possible reason. Congratulations.


- How did it feel to be back?

FRED VANVLEET: Oh, I feel great, man. I can't be too excited to be out of the house publicly. But--


Yes, good to be back at work, man. You know, it's-- I had a hell of a break, you know what I mean? I really I had a hell of a break. I didn't get to obviously go on the trip or nothing, but I was home spending time with my family. You know, wifey was getting close so we knew it could come at any time.

It was a weird week, man. I had a death in the family, I had a birthday, and the birth of my child all in the same couple of days. So it was just one of those things, man. Just put you back in place and it gives you a great perspective on life. And ultimately, you know, I have an incredible life and I'm extremely blessed. So but yeah, I'm happy to be back at work.

- Do we have a name? Little boy, little girl?

FRED VANVLEET: Layla. Layla VanVleet, yeah. So a little girl born last week right around this-- whatever the New Orleans game, around that time. So yeah, the team did good 2-1 while I was out. So I was happy about that as well.

- One more back to basketball. The defense is starting to turn back or get back to where you guys were. What's-- outside of Jak, which is an obvious, but what's been the biggest factor in that?

FRED VANVLEET: Uh, that's tough. That's a tough one. I just think you could see it. I mean, it's just like attention to detail. Urgency locked in to the game plan. Like no funny business.

It's just like it's got to matter, you know what I mean? Every possession has got to count. And do the things that we're asked to do from the coaching staff and make plays and just make extra effort, extra rotation. Which, when we do that, we're pretty special.

But I think having Jakob helps balance out the floor and put different guys. I know coach talked about the other day just putting different guys on different positions and get the wings off the bigs and let them guard some of the other guards. So we got to keep-- we've got to be able to rely on that defense and the offense will come.