Toronto beats Denver, but Siakam’s slump continues

The Raptors win, but there's a real issue lurking beneath the good vibes.

My baby can only love one toy at a time. He can have his purple tongs in hand (yes, he loves tongs, and they’re a perfectly fine toy, why do you ask), and all will be right in the world. Laughs. Smiles. Shrieks. Then from across the room, his small wooden truck will beckon. The tongs will be cast aside, driven into the ground with seeming and sudden fury -- what are you doing in my hands!? -- as he tears across the room to capture his truck. This will repeat, perhaps 1000 times, small moments of delight and derision, focus and forgetfulness, and such will be a single day in his life of sameness and newness together. 

It has seemed at times this season like the Toronto Raptors have been afflicted with baby brain. 

One player can be absolutely dominant, shredding defenses with ease, leading the Raptors with offensive explosions like a Great War artillery barrage. But, all too often, his teammates will be observers on the offensive end. In particular, when Pascal Siakam (in the early season) or Fred VanVleet (lately) have gone berserk, it has usually precluded the other from finding the same success. There is only one ball and all that. That has generally been irrelevant for the best pairings across league history, but it has been an honest problem for Toronto’s offense in 2022-23. 

I asked Nick Nurse why they can’t dominate at the same time, and he didn’t have a specific answer.

“That's a good question,” he admitted. “I'd have to probably go back and look at them a little bit. But I think there's certainly been a lot of circumstances where they are. I think that's just how the game flows, or the coverages, or the scheme or something maybe makes that a big part of it, I would say.”

Translation: I don’t know, or more likely, I don’t want to criticize my guys after a big win.