Pascal Siakam and the Toronto Raptors came into their matchup against Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers with eight losses in their last 10 games. Even with O.G. Anunoby returning to the fold, the Raptors were met with a very difficult game on the second night of a back-to-back in hostile territory.
The Raptors actually managed to end the first quarter up by one point, but the floor completely caved in when Siakam and VanVleet were taken out of the game. The 76ers quickly went on a 17-4 run, giving themselves a double-digit halftime lead that seemed insurmountable for Nick Nurse’s team.
Siakam was absolutellar against Embiid and the 76ers, scoring 38 points while pulling down 15 rebounds and dishing out five assists. They came back because of him and him alone.
Somehow, that was not enough to give this team a win, as the 76ers pulled out a 104-101 victory in overtime that sent Toronto to 13-18 and 3-12 on the road.
This game illustrated the fact that this team is more dependent on Siakam being an individually brilliant player than ever before. If he doesn’t play in excess of 40 minutes with tremendous efficiency every day, the team has a minimal chance of turning things around in a meaningful way. Masai Ujiri needs to figure out how to solve this.
Pascal Siakam is carrying the Toronto Raptors.
While Anunoby and Scottie Barnes are fine players that will contribute to the long-term success of this franchise. However, none of them are remotely close to being a player that can carry an offense for an extended period. As such, Siakam has an undue burden placed on him.
In much the same way that Fred VanVleet started to break down at the end of last season, Toronto risks turning their prized possession into a beaten-down fighter that won’t be able to land his famous knockout punch against elite teams late in the season. That is where depth could have helped.
While injuries to Precious Achiuwa and Otto Porter Jr. have made it difficult for Siakam to take a breather, there is a lack of tremendous improvement from Barnes offensively. Toronto is very lucky that Siakam is having the finest season of his career, which is putting him on track for an All-Star nod, All-NBA nomination, and supermax contract.
Siakam is special, and the Raptors should try to milk as much potential out of him as possible in the short term to turn this team around. While this isn’t the best long-term decision, it’s the only one that makes sense for a depleted roster that isn’t scoring or defending well in the last few weeks.