Pascal Siakam allows the Raptors to play like a normal team. That’s a good thing.

Pascal Siakam makes the Raptors normal again. Finally.

Since Pascal Siakam's injury against the Dallas Mavericks on Nov. 4, the Toronto Raptors regressed. They became the version of themselves that battled to 48 wins in 2021-22, emphasizing possessions over all else. They collected 23 offensive rebounds and forced 17 turnovers in their next game against the Chicago Bulls, a win. All told, they averaged 12 more shots per game than opponents over the stretch.

(The breakdown there was a preposterous 16.5 offensive rebounds per game, by far the most in the league, and forced 18.9 turnovers per game, also by far the most.)

At the same time, the Raptors saw their halfcourt offense sink to a miserable dead last in the league during the stretch without Siakam, scoring 84.1 points per 100 plays, more than 12 points below league average. They struggled to an effective field goal percentage of 47.8, also last in the league. (Opponents had the second-best effective field goal percentage in the league against Toronto, a preposterous 57.8.) Bricking so many attempts certainly helps a team grab rebounds in the first place; that the Raptors went 5-5 was a minor miracle and a huge win in the identity column for Toronto.

So on first glance it might have been a negative when the Raptors collected zero offensive rebounds in their first quarter with Pascal Siakam back in the lineup against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Although, that depends on your perception:

You can't grab an offensive rebound if you make your shot. Also: It's good to make your shot. And, a related fact: The Raptors won that first quarter.

"It's always a learning process and just trying to figure out who you're going to be as a team," said Fred VanVleet after the game.