The Toronto Raptors have not felt like the Raptors’ team we’re used to after their poor start to the season.
The Toronto Raptors have lost both of their first games for the first time since the 2012-2013 season. A start most of us and the Raptors are not at all used to in recent years.
Their first loss against the Pelicans was a disappointing one, and it was exacerbated when the Heat beat the Pelicans with ease two days later — the Heat was a team on a similar level to the Raptors last season. The Raptors did bounce back nicely in the second game against the Spurs but still got the short end of the stick.
There is no need to panic (yet). It has only been two games and the Raptors are still in the midst of figuring it out as they go. Regardless, there is still a lot wrong with the Raptors and that leaves me (and the fanbase) with a lot to question so far– great example: Why isn’t Malachi Flynn playing?
Things are working right with the Toronto Raptors, like Pascal Siakam being a legitimate creator/playmaker for the team. But there’s still so much more wrong than right, that the wrongs have to be the focal point.
1. Siakam playing playoff minutes in the regular-season
Pascal Siakam has been one of the Toronto Raptors’ few bright spots for the team. His playmaking, shooting, and decision-making have all gotten better. Three things that coach Nick Nurse was hinting he’d improve on entering the new season. However, his improved play shouldn’t be a reason he is playing such heavy loads in the early stages of the season.
Siakam has played a game-high in minutes in both games so far — 38 against the Pelicans and 43 against the Spurs. A worrying stat for a player being relied on for everything the Raptors do. In the Spurs game especially, Siakam’s fatigue was on full display in the second half.
- First half stat line: 21:37 MIN/12 PTS/5 AST/12 REB/1 STL/1 BLK/5-12 FG
- Second half stat line: 21:25 MIN/4 PTS/3 AST/3 REB/0 STL/0 BLK/1-4 FG
The drop-off in play is significant and there’s a reason the Raptors were up by 7 after the first half. By the second half, Siakam looked fatigued and did not resemble at all the player he was in the first half.
Siakam’s game requires a lot of energy and movement, and that’s what makes him so hard to stop. But when he’s not receiving any rest while commanding the offense and playing elite defense, it’s a difficult task.
There should be no reason Siakam is playing such heavy minutes in regular-season games. Understandably, there is no real replacement for Siakam, and Nurse doesn’t want to fall too behind in games. However, Siakam must be rested more if Nurse wants to get the most of him for the entire duration of the game.
That can start by trusting OG Anunoby more on the offensive end to replace Siakam’s minutes when he’s off.