Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and the Toronto Raptors may not have been facing a healthy Boston Celtics team due to the loss of Al Horford, but this group still had enough big names on the floor to do some real damage. With Toronto fresh off two bad defeats, they needed to come out firing.
Thanks to a 37-point second quarter, the Raptors went into halftime up by six and playing some unified, inspired basketball. However, a 17-5 run by the league’s best offense but Boston back on top, leaving it to Toronto’s collection of star players to step up and get this team back on the right track.
Unfortunately, not all of them answered the call.
Boston ended up with a 116-110 victory that sent Toronto back to .500 on the year at 12-12. OG Anunoby and the rest of the defense kept Boston in check early in the game, but things fell apart when they started to find a groove from 3-point range and Toronto lacked a flow offensively.
There are a few Raptors who played very well tonight and should leave this game pleased with their performance against the league’s best. However, many of the eight Raptors who saw the floor tonight need to go back to the film room and reevaluate some things.
Pascal Siakam was a leader for the Toronto Raptors tonight.
Does it ever get repetitive spending postgame articles promoting the gospel of Siakam? Not one bit. The only offensive play that seemed to work in any context during Toronto’s second-half malaise was giving the history-making Siakam the ball against a very skilled defense and getting out of his way.
Siakam finished with 29 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists while going 9-20 from the field. While his efficiency dipped later on in the game, can you blame him? He was the only player (outside of Gary Trent Jr. in brief spurts) that was creating anything offensively.
While the Celtics’ 3-point attack was able to slice up Toronto’s perimeter defense, the only reason the scoreline was not more lopsided was a brilliant performance from Siakam that is becoming more of an expectation at this point in the season. Spicy P can hold his head high after this one.
Fred VanVleet struggled again for the Toronto Raptors.
While most of our VanVleet criticism has been tempered with the expectation that he is eventually going to get things turned around, that assuredness that everything will work out in his favor is quickly being tested. This may be the worst stretch of basketball VanVleet has played post-Kyle Lowry.
In 38 minutes, VanVleet scored just eight points. He went 3-14 from the field and connected on only one 3-point shot. VanVleet hasn’t hit more than 40% of his shots in a game since a November 11 loss against the Thunder, as he looks nothing like last year’s All-Star.
VanVleet brings a lot to the table as a leader and distributor, but something is genuinely wrong with his shooting right now. The Raptors have no choice but to let him try to shoot his way out of this, as he remains the best point guard option on what is clearly an imperfect roster.