Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam got off to a slow start in the series but picked it up over the final few games. Did he meet expectations?
IMMAN ADAN: Someone else who had so much heart that we would be remiss if we didn't mention is Pascal Siakam, who really showed himself to be the team's star of the series. What did you see from Pascal Siakam that you really liked?
SAVANNA HAMILTON: It's funny you say the team star of the series because the first two games, he was not like that. We've been having a lot of conversations about his role throughout the series. And I think we did see Game 3 to this game, the All-NBA Siakam that we're used to seeing.
Did he have the impact, that 40-point type of game that he could have probably had tonight? No. Do we need it? Absolutely, we needed a game like that from him tonight. But it kind of goes to show you the gaps that we have on this team.
It's not necessarily on him in particular. But I do think that Siakam is in-- it kind of opens up the conversation of the category of player that Siakam is in. Is he an NBA superstar, or is he a star? Like, where is he?
Like, he has moments where you think this guy could-- yeah, he could go really far in this league. He could potentially get an MVP. I totally see it someday in the future. This is not me just trying to put a hot take. I totally see him potentially getting an MVP--
IMMAN ADAN: I see it, too.
SAVANNA HAMILTON: --someday in the league. Exactly.
IMMAN ADAN: Yeah.
SAVANNA HAMILTON: It's not-- not too far-fetched. But games like tonight, we need to see that. Like, we need to see somebody put the team on their back. And I don't care if you're taking 100 shots and miss 50 of them or-- well, that's actually a pretty good percentage. But like, I don't--
IMMAN ADAN: I'm like, do that, actually.
SAVANNA HAMILTON: --take 100 shots and only make 30 of them. If you're ending the game with, like, 65 points or something like that, that is your star. That's the guy that's going to get the job done and get you the win. Like, that year that Kawhi Leonard was a part of our team, the rest of the team, they knew how to play team basketball very well. So inserting a star like Kawhi Leonard was-- yeah, Kawhi played maybe a little bit more-- he took like 39 shots in that Game 7 series against Philadelphia.
IMMAN ADAN: And he didn't have a great percentage.
SAVANNA HAMILTON: And he had an awful percentage, but they still won. And he still hit the game-winning shot. And it was things like that where you're just not afraid to take the bad shots, to take the shots. And I think that's what we need to see from Siakam.
And so even though he still had a good game-- he had a good game.
IMMAN ADAN: Yeah.
SAVANNA HAMILTON: It just wasn't the great game that we needed.
IMMAN ADAN: And you know, I like you saying that because-- so Nick Nurse had comments about Siakam making the right reads. And I think that part of what you're saying, and I agree with it, is also about this team needing more, right? It feels like Siakam just needs, like, just some spacing, just someone who if you can pass in the corner, he can get a 3.
But also, it's so funny that you mentioned that and you mentioned Kawhi Leonard. Because when the third quarter started-- or when the third quarter ended, and I saw the Raptors just down a lot, the first thought I had in my mind was Game 6 versus the Milwaukee Bucks. And when the Raptors were down, what was it, like 24 points or something like that against the Milwaukee Bucks?
And it was just like the Kawhi Leonard show. And he just closed out-- the Raptors went on a 26 to 4 run, I think it was, to get a 5-point lead in the end. And it's just like, oh, that's what a superstar does in those moments. And that was the first thought that I had.
And I was like, well, the Raptors don't have anybody like that on the roster this year. And I think that there's growth that I think Pascal needs to make his game. One of them that I'll always mention is that 3-point shot. He doesn't need to be Stephen Curry. But I think the willingness to take it, and also making sure that defenses want to guard you out there, right? Because that's what spacing is all about.
SAVANNA HAMILTON: Mm-hmm.
IMMAN ADAN: And so I think that can unlock a whole other element to his game. In fact, last season, when people were really down on his game, to me, it was more so than his 3-point shot just wasn't there. He had--
SAVANNA HAMILTON: Mm.
IMMAN ADAN: [INAUDIBLE] year of his career. And I think that that makes such a major difference in opening up Pascal's game. And I also think other guys being able to make their shots, and him trusting that so that he can make those right passes to the corner-- and we saw it work with Danny Green in the corner, and Tyrese Maxey in the corner. And we saw how much space that gave James Harden to attack, and that gave Joel Embiid down low as well. So it's really interesting to see what the Raptors can do in the offseason.