Fred VanVleet on Raptors facing 2-0 hole: ‘We never quit’

Raptors guard Fred VanVleet reflected on the team’s mood following another lopsided playoff loss to the Sixers, saying they will need to lean on their postseason experience and clean up the details to have a chance as the series heads back to Toronto. “It’s a great challenge.” Follow our Raptors coverage all season long on Yahoo Sports Canada.

Video Transcript

- With Embiid on the bench, the whole game kind of changed there. What did you see happening and how important is it to take advantage of those? [INAUDIBLE].

FRED VANVLEET: Yeah, I probably got to watch the tape back a little bit but I thought we got off to a good start. It was a little dry spot there. And we never really slowed them down and went 32 and 35 in the second. So you know, it was kind of uphill from there. But it's not- we just got to try and do a better job of guarding everybody. To get a hold of-- they just kind of dictated the game in terms of the physicality and flow and momentum, Regardless.

- The first quarter was kind of a shootout, back and forth. And we lost the rest of the shootout the rest of the way. So we're going to have to find a way to get our defense into the game until we start making some shots.

- Happy with the physicality from your end?

FRED VANVLEET: Yeah, I like the way we started. We didn't really sustain it there. I thought it looked like we ran out of gas a little bit in some areas. But yeah, we brought a lot more fight and intensity tonight. And that's something that we can build on going forward. We just got to clean up a lot of the mistakes. We're making still too many mistakes for this stage. And to beat a team like that, you got to be a little sharper.

- What did you like about that fourth quarter run and how much of that do you think should carryover?

FRED VANVLEET: Yeah, well, I mean-- we never quit. That's one thing about this team all season. We never quit. We're pretty good in the face of adversity. We've responded to challenges throughout the year. And you got to love the fight and the effort from guys. So as long as there's time on the clock, we're going to continue to fight, scrap. And you saw that there. OG got hot. Chris had a good showing their late. So we try to build on that going forward as we get ready to go home.

- What's the challenge-- as opposed to trying to guard Embiid without fouling, just make him head to the free throw line?

FRED VANVLEET: Yeah. It's tough. It's tough, right? I mean, they're-- what'd they shoot? 26-30 from the line? So you know, him and James, obviously-- are two of the best at it. Their team is on top of the league in free throw shooting. So we're going to have to find a way to get creative to find different ways. I thought we did a pretty good job. But at a certain point, you have to stop arguing with the refs and find another solution. Because they're not budging.

- So I liked our intensity and our physicality and we showed them more bodies and we seem to be in the right spots with some of the doubles and things like that. We'll have to find ways to get our hands out of there searching for him and maybe clean up the boards a little bit.

But yeah, he dominated tonight. Didn't do as good a job as we did in the previous game. So again, look at the tape. And we got a day in between. So see what we can be better at.

- Yesterday you kind of said that [INAUDIBLE], but what do you want to do? What do you like in terms of specifics?

FRED VANVLEET: I thought, we just fight a little bit harder. I thought we brought the right level of effort, intensity for the most part. We didn't play a full 48 of it. But we started the game off the right way. We're continuing to find good shots but create good shots.

Our defense was-- our transition-- we all know what they have at fast break. They still beat us at the fast break game. But it seemed to be a little bit better at getting back against set.

So again, a little better. Not good enough. Again, at this point of the season, you've got to be playing at a really high level to keep winning and beat some of these teams. And that's what it takes in the playoffs. So we'll see if we can ramp it up a little bit more, clean up, got to play a little smarter. We play hard enough-- I think in a lot of areas, but got to play harder still. And play way smart.

- [INAUDIBLE]?

FRED VANVLEET: Oh, we're good. I mean, we've been here before. Some of us, obviously. Never happy after a loss. You know, it's not a rah rah mood, it's not loose. But there's no sour moods, nobody is sad, or defeated.

You know, it's the first of four. And I've seen it plenty of times. So we got a chance. We've got to get better. We got to defend them, go back home. Get some home cooking, get in front of our fans. See if we can get a little bit of momentum on our side there. One win at a time. Get one, it's a completely different look.

- Yeah, because this time of year, you guys ran out of gas it seemed as the game went on. And obviously, with such a short bench, somebody got missing. There's no easy solution, but how do you survive that?

FRED VANVLEET: Yeah, we got to push through it. Got to push through it. It's up to coach on the rotations and things like that. But this is where we are. There's no trades coming in at this time of year. So this is our team. We've got to push through it.

I've got to find a way. Certainly, I've got to be better myself. I'll take full responsibility. I think, if I'm playing a little bit better in both of these games, I think we got a better shot at it. So again, look at the tape. See where I can be better as the leader of this team and see if I- how I can help these guys.

- Pascal's en route, so we're just going to finish with two questions online. Go ahead please, Josh.

- Thank you. Go ahead, Michael.

- Hey Fred, when Embiid sits and they're-- Maxey and Harden got a little two man game thing going, why is that proving to be so difficult to stop, or to kind of at least break even on it?

FRED VANVLEET: Yeah, we blew some coverages. In guarding them, we definitely messed up a little bit there with the-- find a different way to say it. But I think just trying to get a hold of them. You know what I mean? Try to be able to put your hands on people and dictate a little bit more. I think that'll help. But our help side has got to be there to make a play. We cleaned up in the second half a little bit more, took some charges.

So again, I think we'll be able to clean that up. But we just blew some switches. And that was kind of the mistakes that I spoke to earlier. The times that we did guard him, it felt like he got the offensive rebound. So we'll find ways to clean that up. But it just boils down to locking in and cleaning up and kind of not blowing some of those coverages.

- Thanks, Fred.

FRED VANVLEET: Thanks

- Last question, Dorian. Go ahead Dorian.

- Fred, with so many guys out or not at 100% in the case of a couple of them, a lot of the load fell on you and Pascal and OG. Just how difficult was it for you three to kind of carry that load knowing that throughout the course of the season you guys have been much more of a five man team?

FRED VANVLEET: Yeah, it's tough. But you know, it's that time of year. It's a great challenge for all of us in our young career to step up. This is the platform where you want to go from good to great. And you know, I'm speaking for myself, but I didn't answer that call tonight. I don't know if these-- you can make excuses for yourself or you can try to rise to the occasion or play above it.

So it's probably going to take a little bit better performances out of myself to get us over the hump. OG was able to get it going as the third guy tonight. So we'll see what we can use him more in spots going forward. Pascal is doing his thing.

But the responsibility falls on us. And you know, it's a great challenge and a great test for us going forward. And we've got to step up and answer the call. And I'm confident that we'll do that.

- What did you see from the rest of the bench? The guys who kind of had a bigger role today than they might have had the injuries not have happened. How did you-- how would you mark their play?

FRED VANVLEET: Chris was good. Chris was good in his minutes. I thought Malachi was trying to find his way. He bought us some time there, he was OK with defense. He didn't make a shot, but he was OK. Khem was better tonight.

Thad was OK. I think Thad was trying to find his way. He looked a little tentative with the hand up there. So we'll see if he can get more comfortable. But again, this is- it's not on the bench, man. It's on myself to be better. And I'm always going to take responsibility for our team's performance. And we didn't get the win. So you just put the blame on me.

- Thanks Fred.

- Thanks guys.

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