The Toronto Raptors were not able to get out of their cold spell as they lose another heartbreaker to the Portland Trailblazers.
It’s been a rough season for the Toronto Raptors, and this game against the Portland Trailblazers proved just that. On a second night of a back to back, the Raptors suffer their second consecutive one point loss. Here are some key takeaways from the Toronto Raptors loss to the Blazers on Monday night.
#1: The center position needs to be addressed
There is a clear weakness within the Toronto Raptors and that is their depth at the center position. Teams know that they can defeat the Raptors by pounding it in the paint at their big men. Other than Chris Boucher, Toronto’s centers have been a no show this season.
Aron Baynes didn’t play for the second consecutive game, as his play to start the season has been a major disappointment. Alex Len has gathered a few minutes but hasn’t been productive one bit, during his time on the floor. The only big that the Raptors can depend on is Chris Boucher, who had a great game tallying 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks.
Boucher has been the biggest surprise for the Raptors, as he had yet another outstanding performance. Boucher also had a career-high 5 three pointers against the Blazers. On what was his 28th birthday, Boucher did everything in his power for to Toronto to leave Portland with a win.
It’s unclear on whether Nick Nurse is going to trust that their centers are going to find they’re groove, or whether the front office will be looking to move forward. Whatever the decision turns out to be, the Raptors need productivity from the center spot in order to win.
#2: Closing out quarters are becoming a serious problem
This was a game the Raptors shouldn’t have loss. For majority of this game, if not close to the entirety, Toronto was in control. The Raptors played a great balance of sound defense, with effective offense. Despite the great 45 minutes that the Raptors played, due to their inability to close quarters, Toronto leaves Portland 2-8 instead of 3-7.
It wasn’t just the fourth quarter in which the Raptors struggled to close, they also showed troubles finishing the first half strong. In a matter of a few possessions the Raptors witnessed a double-digit lead evaporate into a 5 point game.
After coming off a heartbreaking loss on Sunday night, it would be expected for Toronto to fix the mistakes they made against the Warriors. However, after losing a game that the Raptors had in their grasp in Oakland, they did the same in Portland.
This loss might be the most hurtful loss the Raptors have suffered yet, but in order to prevent this from happening again, there needs to be a change in the ability to successfully close out quarters.
#3: Can’t blame Pascal Siakam for the loss
Pascal Siakam hasn’t had the best season so far but one thing for sure is, he isn’t to blame for the last 2 losses. Siakam has shown out and balled, leading Toronto in the best of his capabilities. The All Star finished with his first career triple double tallying 22 points, 13 rebounds, along with 10 assists.
His play on the court is significantly different from the first 7 games of the season. Siakam is playing with more hunger, assertiveness, energy, and intensity. Pascal has to continue to play with that chip on his shoulder that he has been playing with for the past few years.
The game did come down to Siakam with the ball in his hands yet again but wasn’t able to pull through for the Raptors yet again. Hopefully, these past 2 games serve as fuel to the fire for Pascal and motivates him to become an even better player than he is right now.
Pascal Siakam’s play has slowly been improving which is a good sign. However, when will his excellent play start resulting in wins? Toronto will need to capitalize on them soon. The Raptors now shift gears, as they are back home in Tampa to face the red hot Charlotte Hornets.