Fred VanVleet proves his worth to Raptors in win vs. Spurs

Mar 9, 2022; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 9, 2022; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports /

The Toronto Raptors came into their duel with the San Antonio Spurs on a 2-5 slide that did a major number on their chances to escape the play-in tournament. With Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby both nursing injuries, it was clear that the Raptors weren’t operating at full strength.

Luckily, the Raptors were able to get VanVleet back into the lineup after missing some time with a knee ailment. In a torrid first half that saw him amass 21 points on relatively efficient shooting percentages, it’s clear that the steady metronome keeping this team on the straight and narrow had returned to the squad.

The Raptors took home a 119-104 victory against a rebuilding Spurs team. VanVleet led the way, scoring 26 points on 7-15 shooting and 3-8 from 3-point range. Toronto outscored the Spurs by 18 points in the second half, as VanVleet and the rest of the squad got hot from 3-point range.

Having VanVleet 100% healthy turns Toronto from an offensively challenged team that often finds it difficult to keep pace into a well-oiled machine that excels at distributing the ball to open shooters. The Spurs aren’t the toughest opponent in the world, but VanVleet’s value was put on display for all to see tonight.

29. Final. 119. 81. 104

Fred VanVleet led the Toronto Raptors to victory against the Spurs.

While Scottie Barnes came alive in the second half, Pascal Siakam turned in another excellent two-way performance, and Gary Trent Jr. started to look more like his old self after a sluggish stretch, VanVleet was the engine that made this team look motivated and ruthless in a very difficult road environment.

Even when the now-injured Malachi Flynn was healthy, Toronto’s lack of spacing and quality 3-point shooting was killing this team down the stretch of winnable games. VanVleet didn’t have a Steph Curry type of night, but he was lethal enough to make San Antonio’s defense respect the Raptors’ ability to knock them down from deep.

On top of all of that added pressure, VanVleet was being tasked with stopping triple-double machine and fellow All-Star Dejounte Murray regularly on the defensive end. Murray got his fair share of points, but VanVleet played an integral role in slowing down San Antonio’s attack.

The box score stats are impressive enough, but it’s clear that VanVleet’s veteran leadership was a major boost for this team. Toronto looked dead in the water in some of their losses, and VanVleet helped correct that slump as soon as he got healthy.

The Raptors have a very tough road trip coming up, as they will need to face the Suns and Nuggets in consecutive games before a few duels in Los Angeles. The Raptors will need VanVleet to play like the All-Star he is during the next few games. Knowing how Fred VanVleet operates, he shouldn’t have any trouble rising to the occasion.

Next. 3 Raptors who are standing out in second half. dark