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Pascal Siakam, Future top 5 player?

On the Raptors battle vs the Nets.

There’s an old song that you probably have heard called “Anything you can do I can do better”. Not only is that a classic catchy song, the chorus of that song happens to perfectly encapsulate the battle in Brooklyn between the Nets and the Raptors.

Coming into this game it was known that in order to walk out of Brooklyn as victors Toronto would have to match the potent offensive production of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving and who better to lead the charge on that front than Pascal Siakam. Siakam led the way for Toronto by recording a triple double with 37 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists shooting 71% from the field and the way he did it was just magnificent. Not only did he take advantage of Brooklyns subpar rim protection by bruising his way to soft touch layups and putbacks, he also showed prowess as an off-the-dribble mid range shooter. Many times when the Raptors possessions seemed dead Siakam hit some extremely difficult shots over his defender that left them scratching their heads. After some early foul trouble sent him to the bench early in the first quarter he came out with a vengeance in the second and rang off 12 points in that quarter alone. The defense against Kevin Durant also has to be mentioned because initially Toronto stifled him with suffocating defense holding him to a mere 2 points in the first quarter. Early in the game it seemed as if it would be a Gary Trent Jr. night after he blasted the Nets with 9 first quarter points but beyond that first quarter he couldn’t seem to find his rhythm.

The old adage “Basketball is a game of runs” perfectly describes the nature of the second half for both these teams. To open the second half the Raptors came out very sloppy picking up many ugly turnovers and allowing the Nets to run up a 9-0 run to take the lead back after some classic KD and Kyrie my turn your turn offense. Then after back to back Kevin Durant triples it was time for someone to stop the bleeding and who else but Pascal Siakam. After they gathered themselves on defense the Raptors were able to close the gap but a big part of this was the 16 points Pascal had in the third quarter including a 4 point play to really swing momentum. He scored these points in a myriad of ways whether it was leaking out on fastbreaks, once again backing someone down for his silky smooth floaters, or even punching it emphatically on Kevin Durant. As I said previously though it was a game of runs and Durant was finally unleashed in the 3rd quarter putting up 12 points for the Nets with some help from Kyrie and surprisingly Nic Claxton on the offensive end. The Raptors allowed the Nets to go on a 9-0 run to end the third that once again had this game very close and at this point the game was beyond exciting.

The 4th quarter was one for the ages. Toronto had just come off a strong clutch time performance against the Cleveland Cavaliers two nights ago so you knew there was a level of comfortability in these moments. This quarter is also where we got the much needed help from Fred VanVleet after the Nets began the quarter with an 8-0 run to add to the late third quarter 9-0 run and just when it was beginning to get uncomfortable we get a well timed three from Fred VanVleet. Even after the Nets ran their lead up to 12 points thanks to some extremely tough shot making from Kyrie Irving despite good coverage by VanVleet and Anunoby the Raptors were still poised and not out of it yet. Pascal Siakam once again showed his value in this game but this time it wasn’t his scoring, it was his playmaking that propelled the Raptors back into it. He put up 6 assists in the 4th quarter alone due to all the attention he was garnering with the ball in his hands. After he had put up 30+ points at this point in the game the Nets were quick to double him and just pay a lot of attention to him and this led to great looks for the rest of the Raptors starters. Although they were able to contain Durant in this quarter, Kyrie Irving and his shot making and playmaking were just too much to overcome and after a late game assist to Royce Oneal the game was essentially over.

Although the night ended with a loss there is a positive we can grab from it. Pascal Siakam as a jumbo playmaking scoring hub looked very good and he handled extra defensive attention well like he’s done in the past but the jump shooting is the intriguing part because if he can become a consistent pull up threat we may see a jump from him that will make everyone rethink the Raptors ceiling.

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