Raptors forward Pascal Siakam discusses the upcoming road trip, Fred VanVleet's performance of late and Toronto stringing together a consistent level of play.
PASCAL SIAKAM: Definitely it's going to tell a lot about us and just being on the road, being together, being away from home in moments where, you know, like, we're not where we're supposed to be. And, you know, we have an opportunity-- it's a good opportunity-- to go out there and play some good games on the road, get our confidence back, get some good wins, and just play. Just play basketball, play better, and enjoy each other's company.
- How about where the team is now compared to where it was even two weeks ago? How do you feel about that? Like, do you think you guys are making--
PASCAL SIAKAM: I think, I think we're making progress. Again, it's not quite there. Right? Like, I said, we're making progress, but we're not where we're supposed to be. So I think that we all know that. And I just like that we want to continue to work. And when you look at, you know, all those, a lot of the games that we lost, like, we're right there and we're not even playing at our best. You know? So I think that it just shows that if we get our stuff, our things together, you know, we can always, I think, every night have an opportunity to win. And I always felt like that, so.
- And this is more of a defensive game right now? Like, is that where all the focus is?
PASCAL SIAKAM: I think it's everything. Just, just playing hard. And I think that that just translates to offense, too. Like, if we get stops, we get, we get more opportunity to score, we get, we get everything. But I think it's overall just our game in general, like, as a team, playing hard, playing together, helping each other, which I felt like, you know, last year we did a lot of that, you know. We did a lot of-- it's not like we was perfect, but when somebody messed up, like, there was somebody there to help him. And, you know, I think we kind of got away from that and we got to get that. And I think we had good stretches where we did that. But we just, just not, not quite enough.
- Do you almost have to, like, think less about what you guys are supposed to be and be like, OK, this is where we are right now. Like, let's just take a step forward in this.
PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah. That's, there's no point of thinking about what we was at last year or what we're supposed to be. Like, this is our situation. This is the present. And we have to take it as it is and just continue to focus on every day. Sounds like a broken record, but that's the truth. We got to, we've got to go out there and focus on every game. And, and like I said, I just feel like we don't play as well as we supposed to play in some of those games-- like, we're right there, you know? So I think that it just shows that we can, if we can play better, like, we can win.
- Is there a way, like an extended road trip, to help bring that focus maybe the way, like, you tried to take it?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah. No, for sure. It definitely can. You know, we're away from our families, we're away from, you know, from home, and it gives us an opportunity to just stay together, hang out more, and just go grind those wins out. Like, it's going to be a lot of tough, tough, tough teams that we're going to play on the road, and it's going to take a lot of character, a lot of togetherness, to be able to do that. So I think it's a fabulous opportunity for us to go out there.
And again, at the end of the day, man, this is basketball. Like, go play basketball. Like, just-- from when I started playing basketball, like, it's always, always been about, like, going out and trying to be the best and trying to beat everything that you play, and we've got to go back to that, like, playing basketball, having fun, and taking it one game at a time.
- This is a more general NBA question, but offense is kind of [INAUDIBLE] across the league this year. And since you've been in the league, what's the biggest difference you've noticed about the type of offenses, how teams [INAUDIBLE]? What's the biggest reason?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah. Like, when you guys ask me about these general league questions, like, I don't never know how to answer. Like, you know that. Like, I don't know. Like, you go-- you got to do the numbers, right? Like, you guys figure it out. I don't know. Yeah.
- Pascal, I want to ask you about Fred. In the last, like, 20 games or so, he's really gotten back to where he was at last season offensively. What have you noticed about his season this year? Obviously, he started it with a different role, but, you know, he's got his rhythm of late. What have you made him?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah, just, again, like, he was an All-Star last year. We all know what he can do on the floor. Just continue to do that. Like, again, like, we all go through periods of time where, you know, you're not going to score or the ball is not going to go in, and, like, you know? Like, but I think that this commitment to getting better, I see him every day working.
You know, he has all, all the tools, you know, from strength training to this to that. Like, he puts it all together and he prepares himself every single day. So I'm happy that, you know, things are looking up and turning around. And, again, he's a big part of this team. So he will continue to get better and he will continue to work and do the things that he does. It's only going to help him be successful.
- When you're one of the big leaders on the team and you start to struggle a little bit, does that sometimes affect sort of the way you can speak to other players or even sort of command the same presence? You know what I mean? Because you want to tell the people you're doing wrong or right if you're not [INAUDIBLE] yourself.
PASCAL SIAKAM: Right. I mean, again, like, we just-- I think for me it's like that's not being a leader. It's not just pointing what people are doing wrong. Like, I think that that's not just part of being a leader. Being a leader is no matter what, continuing to be present every single day, working hard, doing the right things. I think that's what comes with being a leader. I don't think being a leader is just going out there and chewing everybody out and telling them what they're doing wrong. Like, that's not, that's not being a leader for me. And I think that he's been doing that, like, being present every single day, doing the right things, and I think that's all we need from him.
- What's the progress that you've seen also from Scottie? Because he's had a pretty good stretch lately. He also contributes to the team in different ways that sometimes don't show up on the--
PASCAL SIAKAM: Right. Well, he's been, he's been great. I think keeping things simple, just going out there and playing basketball, using his instincts-- like, he was blessed with amazing talent-- just going out there and doing that without thinking about anything else. Like, it's playing basketball, and those natural talents just come out, you know.
And he can always affect the game in so many different ways in scoring. And I don't think that, you know, like Josiah Johnson, him thinking that he was going to come and average 30 points a game-- or at least not right away. Like, you know, he's going to continue to get better. He's going to-- he has so many things that he can do on the floor to be impactful that, you know, it doesn't always have to show up in the stat sheet, you know? And I think that as long as he's focused and doing the right things, like, he's going to be OK.
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