Fred VanVleet aimed a shot at the Brooklyn Nets after the Toronto Raptors won Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semi-final series with the Boston Celtics.
OG Anunoby's buzzer-beating three-pointer gave the Raptors a 104-103 victory over the Celtics on Thursday, seeing the defending champions narrowly avoid falling 3-0 behind.
Toronto had a week off after sweeping the Nets in the first round of the playoffs and the start of their series with Boston, which was delayed by teams refusing to take the court in protest against racial injustice and police brutality after Jacob Blake was shot in the back several times by an officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
VanVleet felt the uncertainty of that situation coupled with the minimal challenge posed by the Nets made it tough for the Raptors to start strongly in the semi-finals.
Asked why he said Toronto had experienced "a rough couple of days," VanVleet explained.
"I think it's everything. With all due respect to Brooklyn, I don't think that got us ready to play at the level we needed to be ready for Game 1," he said. "I think the transgressions of those few days, whether we were gonna sit, whether we were gonna play, coupled with laying that egg in Game 1, that was a lot. And then we played our butts off in Game 2 and didn't come out with the win, so it's disappointing."
Raptors’ Fred VanVleet on losing first two to Celtics: “With all due respect to Brooklyn, I don’t think that got us ready to play at the level we needed to be ready for for Game 1 (vs. Boston). ... Nobody was happy. People were pissed off. The mood wasn’t great.” pic.twitter.com/oQs0y5Y5x3— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) September 4, 2020
"We expect a lot of ourselves and so to be down 0-2, we know it wasn't over, but nobody was happy," he said. "People were pissed off, the mood wasn't great, and all we needed was one to get the juice back. A little magic, a little luck to get the momentum going on your side. Now we've got to try to tie this thing up on Saturday."
VanVleet had 25 points on 9-of-22 shooting from the field, while he was 5-of-13 from beyond the arc in Game 3.