1 stud and 1 dud as Pascal Siakam, Raptors clinch vs. Hawks

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 05: Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot #7 of the Atlanta Hawks drives against Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 05: Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot #7 of the Atlanta Hawks drives against Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

Pascal Siakam and the Toronto Raptors entered Tuesday night with the opportunity to clinch a top-six seed in the Eastern Conference. If Fred VanVleet helped take care of business against Trae Young’s Atlanta Hawks and the Magic came out on top against the Cavaliers, Toronto would secure at least the No. 6 spot.

The Raptors started in a fairly lethargic fashion, as allowing an 11-0 Hawks run and missing their first 12 3-point shots put them on the back foot early on. Behind the strength of their stars, Toronto eventually battled back and regained the lead heading into the fourth.

After letting a substantial fourth-quarter league slip away due to poor shooting, The Raptors pulled out a 118-108 win. Due to Orlando upsetting a sliding Cleveland team, Toronto has officially made the postseason without going through the play-in. Not bad for a team that had the No. 4 overall pick a year ago.

This game was not Toronto’s finest hour, as big names were struggling to connect on open shots and contain an Atlanta team that was missing John Collins. Still, clinching a playoff spot wouldn’t have been possible without a unified effort from many of the team’s most impactful players.

118. 81. Final. 108. 125

Pascal Siakam was dominant once again for the Toronto Raptors.

It was incredibly hard to leave Thad Young out of this spot, as his exceptional offensive rebounding helped spark the Raptors during the second quarter. Chris Boucher managed to get back on track in the most emphatic way possible.

However, when someone like Siakam is putting up such insane numbers with regularity, they’ll end up in this spot quite regularly.

Siakam finished with 31 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists against a Hawks team with plenty of height in the frontcourt. With VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. not catching fire as they normally do, Siakam was able to absorb all of that offensive responsibility and cook Atlanta.

While slowing down Young was obviously the main priority for Toronto, Siakam played a hand in limiting how much damage Clint Capela and DeAndre Hunter could do. When paired with yet another efficient offensive showing, it further reinforces that Siakam is playing the best ball of his career.

Siakam’s All-NBA charge is getting more realistic with each passing game. His second-half stats have been so eye-popping (and the Raptors’ record has been so impressive) that anyone who doesn’t vote for him is openly admitting they don’t watch Raptors games. This team is letting Siakam carry them on offense.

Toronto Raptors All-Star Fred VanVleet was off his game.

Whatever pregame meal VanVleet had appeared not to agree with him, as he was a liability on the offensive end for most of the night. Just one night after going toe-to-toe with Kyle Lowry, VanVleet was unable to get in any sort of groove from beyond the 3-point line.

X points and X assists from the field might not sound like the worst day at the office, but VanVleet achieved those numbers after going 4-21 from the field and 2-12 from 3-point range. VanVleet was getting some good looks, but he didn’t have the usual perfect touch he’s shown off this year.

VanVleet is not going to have a ton of games like this, especially as he’s looked more robust over the last few weeks. While not a cause for concern, VanVleet’s tough night did illustrate that the Raptors are running low on shooting options when he is struggling and Anunoby is out.

Next. 1 reason Raptors can beat Top 4 seeds. dark