NBA playoffs 2019: Fred VanVleet says newborn son snapped him out of shooting slump

Fred VanVleet’s shooting slump appears to be over.

The Raptors point guard came off the bench Tuesday night to score 13 points and help Toronto defeat the Bucks, 120-102, in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals and tie the series up.

According to VanVleet, the birth of his son, Fred Jr., on Monday was instrumental in helping him get his groove back.

“It makes you tired,” VanVleet said of welcoming a second child, via ESPN. “It gives you a little perspective, I guess, on life. I had a lot of time to think. Had to sit at the hospital all day, had a lot of time to think, obviously a plane ride back.

“It just changes the way you’re looking at things. You are not so down on yourself about everything.”

VanVleet flew to Rockford, Illinois, after he helped the Raptors win in double-overtime Sunday night, was with the baby in the hospital for one day, then had to turn around and head back to Toronto for Tuesday’s game.

While playing in two playoff games, plus the arrival of a newborn, in the span of three days is exhausting, it appears that’s what VanVleet needed.

He struggled big time since the start of the Raptors’ series against the 76ers, shooting 7 of 44 overall and 3 of 25 from 3-point range entering Tuesday’s game.

In comparison, VanVleet shot 5 of 6 from the field and 3-for-3 from beyond the arc Tuesday night.

“I think he needed it,” Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said. “I think those type of things kind of relaxed him a little bit. “He needed one of those games. You know what he needed? That banked 3 to go in. Stuff like that. Just get in some type of rhythm. He played well and made some great plays tonight.

“Sometimes it’s just one or two shots where something happens. It’s all mental sometimes.”

However, VanVleet and the rest of the Raptors know the series is far from over. Game 5 will be in Milwaukee Thursday, where the Bucks dominated Toronto in the first two games of the series.

“We know,” VanVleet said of how poorly the team played on the road this series. “We know we have to be better. We see all the stuff. We understand what the narrative has turned into, that it is kind of ‘Kawhi Leonard and the Backup Singers.’

“We understand that. Sometimes it has been like that, and there’s other stuff that goes into that. There’s give and take there. But we have to do the same s— today again in Game 5.”