Fred VanVleet is a Prescient Being

The man with the shortest arms on the court reached out to rescue victory from the clutches of defeat.

5 mins read

The Jazz held the Raptors at arm’s length for the whole game, and the man with the shortest arms on the court reached out to rescue victory from the clutches of defeat.

Four minutes and twenty six seconds were left in the third quarter, the Raptors were down 14, and they were inbounding from the Jazz baseline. Knowing a bucket was necessary, they ran their favourite BLOB set – the stagger action for Fred VanVleet – and Trent Forrest navigated the Raptors trees (heheh) to trail VanVleet’s hip. Sandwiched between two Trent’s, the one trailing and the one passing to him, VanVleet rose up for a mid-range jumper that was the springboard for a historic run.

On the other end of the floor, VanVleet and Khem Birch ‘iced’ a side pick n’ roll, the ball funneled to Elijah Hughes, who would miss, and the ball fell from the heavens into VanVleet’s destiny-laden hands. He pushed the ball forward, sprinting to a pre-determined spot, and when Forrest was foolish enough to try and dissuade him, VanVleet gave him a forearm shiver and stepped back for a triple.

This run of play? The middy, the ice, the step back triple – it would qualify as a great run on it’s own. But, it was a sign of more to come.

Another missed shot from the Jazz, and an outlet pass found VanVleet who, once again sprinted toward a predetermined spot. This time it was the paint, and four Jazz defenders joined him there. Contact. Free Throws.

VanVleet’s drives to the basket started to look oddly Sisyphean both metaphorically and literally. The outcome of this game makes you wonder: Did Sisyphus ever really bet on himself?

A missed layup, a Birch rebound, and in the empty Scotiabank Arena VanVleet frantically clapped and called for the ball. Birch had the good sense to make that happen. As quickly as Birch gave VanVleet the ball, #23 was as quick to the opposing 3-point line where he poured in another shot from downtown. Dribbling horizontally through a maze of defenders, hunting a smidge of open space.

VanVleet laboured back to his own end, waited at the nail and then swiped at the air where he knew the ball would appear. A block/steal, the ball in hand, and 2 seconds later he had drawn an And-1 at the rim. He looked as if he were about to flex, wanting to celebrate an immense run of basketball-ing, only to temper himself in what was no doubt a realization that the work wasn’t done.

Hassan Whiteside received a post-entry pass and lost sight of the Raptors help defenders. VanVleet saw his chance and went for a dig down, Whiteside bobbled, and VanVleet stole the ball. The Jazz had learned from the past possessions and sent two players to stop the ball. Mr. Bet on Yourself waited patiently for Birch to set the step-up screen, then rejected it. His defender stayed in front, so he snatched back to use Birch as an obstacle once again. Open space. Jumper. The lead. A personal 15-0 run.

A short reprieve to grab a high-five from Pascal Siakam. The only acknowledgment of his run so far.

VanVleet closed out the quarter by calmly launching a 28-foot three with 4.5 seconds left, and then jumping a passing lane for a steal. A plan bears fruit.

24 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 block and 100-percent shooting in the third quarter. A masterclass.

Siakam held up his end of the deal. Helping the Raptors extend the lead in the fourth quarter, and greasing the runway of VanVleet’s impending triple-double. The first of his career, and the highest scoring triple-double in Raptors history (37).

The predetermined fashion in which VanVleet made his plays on both ends of the floor leaves only one possibility: Fred VanVleet is prescient. Betting on yourself is pretty easy when you know the outcome.

Have a blessed day.


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