For the Toronto Raptors, many believed that Pascal Siakam would be the first star striker who would lead the team throughout the Florida Bubble Experience.
But even during the ranking matches, something in the Siakam match had just stopped. The leading man in the Raptors did not look the same. As much as he can offer defense, his offensive game appears to have stalled in March, before the NBA season comes to a halt.
So when the Raptors title defense officially ended Friday night with a 92-87 loss in the match 7 semi-finals of the Boston Celtics Eastern Conference, Siakam placed the blame squarely on his 26-year-old shoulders.
“Obviously I have to be better,” said Siakam. “It was definitely a learning moment for me just to learn from this experience and only knowing you had to be ready and I couldn’t help my team mates. I take so much blame, man.”
Siakam averaged 23.6 points versus 45.9% of total shot and 35.9% of depth during the regular season before stopping. This resulted in him receiving his first All-Star nod and going on to justify the four-year maximum extension he signed in the off-season.
But once the restart began, production of the offensive sycam decreased. In the Seven Seeding Games he played at Lake Buena Vista, he averaged 16.9 points on 39.4% shot from field while maintaining the same 3-point percentage as before (35.6%).
However, Boston Siakam chased after the show throughout the series, and the struggles continued dramatically. In seven matches against the Celtics, he dropped SICAM’s goalscoring rate to 14.9 and his shot down to 38.2%.
His 3-point percentage was historically bad. Siakam went to 4 out of 32 (12.5%) against Boston, the worst 3-point percentage in a playoff series in NBA history (at least 30 attempts), according to ESPN Statistics and Information Research.
His 3-point overall performance of 10 to 53 (18.9%) is the second worst in the post-season period (50 attempts at least) behind Lindsay Hunter’s efforts 8 versus just 53 in 2001.
While Siakam was involved in his all-out match, teammates and his coach scrambled to defend him after he was ousted on Friday.
“I’m proud of him and I love him,” said Raptors guard Fred Vanfleet. “He’s my brother. I’ll go to war with him any day, and I know he didn’t live up to his level and he didn’t play the way he’d like, but I loved his effort and his toughness, he never pointed fingers, he was never a bad teammate.”
“He kept trying and it didn’t work for him. It’s part of the journey. Everyone has ups and downs, and unfortunately it came around this time. It happens. It happens to everyone.”
Raptors goalkeeper Kyle Lowry suffered a similar relegation in the playoffs before turning things around in recent years. Laurie said that when he was struggling, he was eager to read everything that was written about him at the time – good or bad.
He used that as a drive to move forward and suggested that Siakam do the same.
Laurie said, “For a guy like me, he’s been through the kind of things he’s going through in this moment, he’s going to be able to call me anytime and I’m not going to tell him anything is wrong.” “I don’t think he did anything wrong, I think this is a learning experience. I think this will make him a better basketball player, a better man, and everything better. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him come back more hungry people and wipe out people.”
The nurse said his advice to Siakam would be to spend some time away and then come back and watch this post-jog season to see what they can build from.
“I think as with any young player, I think that you work on improving your body and your skills,” said a nurse. “This is what makes your mind click on confidence, being in a really cool physical shape and knowing that you spend time in the gym from now until the next time we meet.”
The nurse also referred to the way Siakam was playing before pausing when asked to look ahead, describing this extension as a “minor setback”.
“I’m really confident,” said the nurse. “I think there was nothing but progress like this for him. This is a strange and unique scenario. I can’t stress enough how well he was playing which led to this epidemic. In the basket or kicked or kicked the ball out of For wide open shots. For whatever reason, we’re all touched differently. I’m not going to sit here and try to read a lot about it. “
Siakam described his colleagues, standing back at this moment, as “unbelievable.”
“It’s part of the journey, and it’s something years later, I’m going to look at it and I’m going to be like, man, like, look where I’ve come from, look how far I’ve come and see what I’ve done.” So it’s unreasonable to have that kind of support. It only means a lot and I really appreciate it, for sure. ”
With impending free agency VanVleet, Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol, and with OG Anunoby qualifying for the extension, Nurse also took some time to contemplate winning the championship last season and then performing this season.
“I really miss this team, do you know what I mean?” Said a nurse. “It was a hell of two years with the core group of these guys. But I didn’t think about it at all until after the match was over. I didn’t think the match would end. I really was hoping to win this series and get ready for Miami tonight.”
For most Raptors, it was hard to immediately think of a tough streak they had just lost. But he still says Toronto has a lot to offer.
“It was an unbelievable fight, man,” said Laurie. “These guys, they defeated us fairly and square. They played hard; they made it difficult for us; We made it difficult for them. We had chances to win, but they went out and did their job and won. And they keep going. For us, it’s just – it’s sad that we have more to offer. Unfortunately, we are not giving any more now. “