Pascal Siakam and the Toronto Raptors were dealt a tough blow right before their tussle with old coach Dwane Casey and the Detroit Pistons, as they would have to play without one of the best guards in the East in Fred VanVleet and a backup big man in Precious Achiuwa.
Even with those injuries, that won’t be enough to give Toronto the win, right? After all, the Pistons are one of the youngest teams and more inefficient offenses in the league, so Nick Nurse should’ve been able to jump all over them.
To the shock of many, Toronto fell in a genuinely startling fashion, losing 127-121 in a game that saw their much-hyped defense get completely torn apart by a Pistons shooting attack that was the league’s worst coming into tonight. On a night when the offense woke up, the defense was reduced to ash and cinder.
Not everyone on the Raptors deserves to be blamed for a loss like this, but the squad as a whole needs to get much better from this point forward. Hopefully, this game served as a wake-up call.
Pascal Siakam had his best game of the season for the Toronto Raptors.
Siakam might not have been facing the Bad Boy Pistons with Bill Laimbeer and Dennis Rodman, but that shouldn’t mean that his exceptional play gets thrown out. This was his best game of the season, and it showed that he is getting closer to returning to his All-Star form.
Siakam scored 25 points, pulled down 12 rebounds, and dished out seven assists. He came dangerously close to a triple-double in just his third game back from injury. Siakam and Gary Trent Jr. combined for 48 points to keep the Raptors’ offense rolling for most of the night.
If you’re going to point to the fact that the Raptors are 0-3 in games in which Siakam has played this season, you’re overlooking how well he played today. Pascal is not 100% yet, and he still managed to provide his usual blend of offensive creation.
Trent also deserves consideration for his white-hot first quarter, but he cooled off slightly once that quarter ended save for a brief spurt in the third stanza. There is plenty of blame to go around after this result, but Siakam shouldn’t be tagged with any of it.
The Toronto Raptors collectively failed on the defensive end.
It’s hard to pick out one player who stunk the most on this side of the floor tonight, so the effort in totality has to be considered. Losing VanVleet and Achiuwa will undoubtedly hurt the defense, but to completely fail to get anything going against one of the worst offenses in the league is extremely disheartening.
While Cunningham was held in check for most of the game, Toronto’s unit was gashed on both ends of the floor, Toronto was sliced up by Detroit’s supporting cast. Isaiah Stewart was 9-11 from the field, Josh Jackson and Frank Jackson combined for 29 points off of the bench, and Killian Hayes almost recorded a triple-double.
Perhaps even more disheartening was how Detroit got those points. Even in crucial stretches in the fourth quarter, it seemed like Jerami Grant was able to get a wide-open 3-point shot whenever he wanted.
The Raptors had a golden opportunity to move to 8-6 against a bad team on the second part of a back-to-back. Instead, they are not going to start a six-game road trip without any semblance of momentum, which could come back to cost them against some of the West’s best.
That defense needs to find out what hole Casey exploited and patch it, as failing to do so would be catastrophic.