Raptors' obliteration of Heat shows there is life after Pascal Siakam

Toronto performed well in their first game since the trade.
Miami Heat v Toronto Raptors
Miami Heat v Toronto Raptors / Cole Burston/GettyImages

As the Toronto Raptors officially brought an end to the Pascal Siakam era with a trade that sent him to the Indiana Pacers, it became easy to forget that they had two consecutive games lined up on the ledger. The first of these duels was against old friend Kyle Lowry and the Miami Heat.

Given the absence of Siakam after the move, Toronto's issues with frontcourt depth, and the Heat's stifling defense having given up fewer than 100 points in their last three games, no one would fault the Raptors for laying an egg and taking home a loss. Instead of conceding, the Raptors played as dominant a first half as you'll see in the modern NBA.

Toronto ended the first half up 78-43, which created the biggest halftime deficit in the history of the Heat. Even though a horrendous second half saw their lead shrink from as many as 38 points down to just 13, the Raptors hit enough timely shots to escape with a convincing 121-97 win in which they never trailed.

The Raptors needed a feel-good performance after one of the more sobering periods in franchise history during the last few weeks, and Darko Rajakovic's squad delivered. The post-Siakam era will certainly have some bumps, but it's hard to imagine a much better start.

Toronto Raptors impress with win vs. Heat in first game after Pascal Siakam trade.

While the Siakam trade was centered around getting picks for the rebuild, the move also helped designate Barnes, RJ Barrett, and Immanuel Quickley as the team's three core players for the immediate future. If this game was any indication, that trio seems to have a very promising connection with one another.

Barrett's 26 points against a stiff Heat defense trailed only Gary Trent Jr. among Raptors, while Barnes finished with 20 points and eight assists. Quickley was in triple-double range with 17 points, eight rebounds, and nine assists, as he was perhaps the main catalyst for Toronto's impossibly hot start in the first half.

Trent was terrific after being reinserted into the starting lineup, scoring 28 points on 8-9 shooting from 3-point range. Jontay Porter continued to show he is worthy of a full NBA contract with more excellent play, and struggling rookie Gradey Dick came alive in one of his best overall games as a professional.

The Raptors' roster is far from complete, but Ujiri would not make this trade if he didn't have the utmost confidence in Barnes and the rest of his studs. Every game won't be like this, but the Raptors showed this team can have a pulse and answer the call against a quality opponent without Siakam in the mix.