VanVleet says Raptors' home crowd is "sh*t" when team is underpeforming

Mar 22 2023, 3:24 pm

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet knows better than just about anyone that Scotiabank Arena can be one of the best arenas in the NBA when things are going well.

VanVleet and the Raptors are currently on a seven-game winning streak at home, their longest of the season. And they’ve got four home games over the next seven days, starting off with a matchup tonight against the Indiana Pacers before hosting Detroit, Washington, and Miami.

Toronto’s 23 home wins (and a 23-13 record) are the sixth most in the Eastern Conference, and tied for the 10th-most league-wide.

Toronto’s last loss at home was on February 10 to the Utah Jazz, but they’ve reeled off nine of their last 10 contests on Canadian soil.

Prior to that, the Raptors’ previous home loss was a 106-104 defeat to Boston on January 21, a little over two months ago.

But things haven’t always been that way, with the team losing seven of their eight home games from December 5 to January 6 of this season.

So what changed? Is it a mindset shift? The trade deadline addition of Jakob Poeltl? Or that various players on the team coming back into the rotation after injuries?

Well, maybe it’s been a combination of everything.

“It’s time for it,” VanVleet told the media at practice on Tuesday about what’s the key behind Toronto’s resurgence at Scotiabank Arena. “The crowd and the city will reflect what we do. When we play like [crap], the crowd’s sh*t, and vice versa. When we play our brand of basketball, when we got it going in there, when we got the right energy and spirit, just that winning atmosphere, we all could build on that. It goes the other way sometimes too. The crowd is very anxious. We gotta do our part to put the right type of atmosphere and play, it’s a hard place to win when it’s going.”

Toronto currently sits ninth in the Eastern Conference standings, four games back of the Brooklyn Nets for a guaranteed playoff spot with just 10 games remaining.

But they’re well on their way to clinching their spot in the play-in tournament, where they could advance into a first-round series against either the No. 1 or No. 2 seeds in the conference. currently gives the Raptors an 89% chance of at least advancing to the play-in rounds.

“I know that playoff basketball experience is really valuable,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse added at Tuesday’s practice.

“I also would say that we feel that, if we get in a playoff series, that we are not afraid of anybody, and I think that we are a hard out. I think that we’ll put some defensive issues in front of people and things like that. So I think that I always say we need playoff experience but once you get in it, obviously the goal is to figure out a way to get out of the series and keep advancing.”

Tipoff for tonight’s home game against Indiana is set for 7:30 pm ET.

Adam LaskarisAdam Laskaris

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