Pascal Siakam and the Toronto Raptors have not gone down without a fight in their first-round playoff series. Taking Game 5 from the 76ers in Philadelphia helped the Raptors take home two consecutive victories and force a Game 6 back in Toronto just when it looked like a sweep was coming.
Toronto has overcome injuries to both Scottie Barnes and Fred VanVleet in this series to hang with a star-laden lineup with names like Joel Embiid and James Harden. Toronto was able to lean on their length and strength to disrupt Philadelphia’s backcourt skill and limit Embiid’s dominance in the paint.
The Raptors may not win this series, but they have done everything they can to make this series competitive after a 3-0 start. The fact that they’ve done this with VanVleet’s injury and Barnes playing on one ankle is a testament to the drive and focus Nick Nurse has instilled in this team.
The Raptors have been carried by the standout performances of these 3 rotation members. Toronto needs a unified effort to pull off something that has never been done, and these three studs need to carry the load if the Raptors are going to reach the promised land of the second round.
3 players who have led the Toronto Raptors against the 76ers.
3. Precious Achiuwa
Achiuwa wasn’t at his best early in the series, but he has come into his own on the offensive end in Games 3 and 5. Even though he isn’t raining down 3-pointers as he did in the second half of the season, Achiuwa has been cleaning up in the paint while showing off his standout defense.
Achiuwa is averaging 11.6 points and 5.4 rebounds in this series while making his mark as Toronto’s best bench player. In addition to slowing down Embiid, Achiuwa has put together games of 17 and 20 points for a Raptors team that hasn’t exactly lit up the scoreboard so far.
Precious Achiuwa is helping the Toronto Raptors at the rim.
Achiuwa is still making his 3-pointers, but his newfound finishing at the rim brings a dimension to his game that often was inconsistent in the regular season. Winning the non-Embiid and non-Harden minutes are critical, and Achiuwa is doing everything he can to boost Toronto’s chances in this battle.
Achiuwa is maturing right before our eyes this season. Not only is he improving on both ends in real-time, but he’s doing so against elite competition in the middle of a very even playoff series. In a few short months, Achiuwa went from a nice developmental piece to a potential long-term building block.