It almost seemed too easy.
Had you not been paying attention it would have been understandable if Fred VanVleet's 54-point night sort of crept up on you. Heck, it wasn't until 8:40 p.m. ET, shortly after VanVleet hit his 11th 3-pointer of the game to rack up his 44th point of the night that I grabbed my phone and texted my family: "Are you watching this Raptors game? Turn it on!" It seemed as blasé a 50-point night as the basketball world had ever seen. There were no forced plays, no heat-check 3s, and almost nothing out of the ordinary from VanVleet. And that's exactly what made the night so special. It was a technical performance, from the Toronto Raptors' new single-game franchise scoring champion, the kind the NBA has never seen before.
What VanVleet did on Tuesday night had never been done before. His 54 points were impressive, but it was his 17-for-23 efficiency that was really mindboggling.
Taking a look at his 17 made field goals on Tuesday it's hard to find one that was forced.
"Everything was in rhythm and in the flow of the game," Kyle Lowry said post-game. "Every time he shot the ball, it felt like or it looked like it was going in. Even the ones he missed should have went in. But it was in the flow of the game. He only had 23 shots. For someone to do that, I think Steph and Klay have records like that. But to see it happen like that with Freddie was pretty awesome to be part of."
Normally when players start going off for a big night everything changes for the offence. When Terrence Ross eclipsed the 50-point mark for the Raptors back in 2014 it came on 29 attempts. His teammates were feeding him the ball over and over again, hoping he could single-handedly will them to a victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
VanVleet's night was almost the exact opposite.
"For most of those I was open. They were in rhythm. They were clean looks. They were within the offense," VanVleet said. "I wanted to win more than I wanted 50 points."
He did it on an almost impossible 100.1% True Shooting. It was the most efficient 50-point game in NBA history, according to Sports Info.
That's what made the remarkable night so unremarkable. It didn't have the same feel as so many other 50-point performances of the past. Then, when it was all over, VanVleet just treated it like any other night.
"I just try to play the game the right way," he said. "When you play with a pure heart and a clear conscience and a clear soul, some good things happen for you, and your teammates and your brothers will be happy for you. That's just a family thing. You've got to be able to be happy for other people before other people can be happy for you. And that's all it is."