The Bench is Here

With Chris Boucher back in the fold and heavy minutes for Precious Achiuwa, a bench might finally find its foothold in Toronto.

Pascal Siakam started the first two games of his career. That was before he was assigned and recalled to the 905 thirteen times in 2017. That was before his G-League Finals MVP, his All-NBA honours, and his NBA Championship. Siakam started because Dwane Casey had a reverence for his bench unit's cohesion and impact, so he vaulted his rookie Siakam into the starting power forward slot and began his career. Christian Koloko, from the same town in Cameroon as Siakam, started his 4th NBA game, with Nick Nurse eyeing a similar goal for his bench.

A daring proposition, in some sense. The Raptors have been losing the Koloko minutes and it's always dangerous to spot leads to teams, or surrender a matchup that they may hunt. Koloko has been good relative to expectations, but despite his potential and all that may come, he's nowhere near the level of player that Precious Achiuwa and Chris Boucher are currently. The starter conversation is on the back burner though, with the injury to Scottie Barnes - we just need to see the best players, the rotation guys, playing the bigger minutes. Nick Nurse has finally hit the yes button on the Achiuwa minutes, and over the course of the 2-game series vs. the Heat, he's provided 68 minutes of sublime defense, creation on offense, and a lot of rebounds.

"Yeah listen, I think that... it didn't feel right in the first couple games. He wasn't getting much of a run. He wasn't quite - on opening night he didn't play much in the first half - it felt like he needed to come out and kind of regroup at half and he played better in the second half. It takes some time to figure out, kind of, where to slot him in and let him go. Now, he played with tremendous energy. Like, that is what I'm trying to get consistent. There's too much there, if he plays hard, not to be productive."

Nick Nurse on his limiting of Achiuwa's minutes

The big numbers? 28-points and 33 rebounds. There is no substitute for him on the roster.

After the win, Achiuwa walked off the court and into a microphone: "It always feels good to beat them (Heat)." And adding: "I'm down to beat this team any day. That excites me more than anything."

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