Van Vleet gets first NBA start in biggest moment
CLEVELAND - Down 2-0 to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA playoffs, Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey turned to Fred Van Vleet in his team's darkest hour.
The Raptors gave Van Vleet his first NBA start on national TV. Even though the Raptors fell 105-103 on a game-winning shot by LeBron James - who continues to build his case in the James-Jordan GOAT debate - Van Vleet played winning basketball. The Raptors were +14 in Fred's 33 minutes. Toronto was -6 with Lowry on the floor and DeRozan was -23 and didn't play in the fourth quarter.
Van Vleet, who led Rockford Auburn to two NIC-10 titles and one third-place IHSA basketball tournament finish, went from end-of-bencher his rookie year to NBA Sixth Man candidate this past season, averaging 20 minutes, 8.6 points, 2.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists. Van Vleet's two-year rookie contract is up and he's earned himself a raise - either from the Raptors or another team.