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Sunday afternoon marked the 2021-22 debut for Pascal Siakam. Siakam underwent shoulder surgical procedure in June and missed the crew’s first 10 video games this 12 months.
Following the sport, Siakam mentioned of his return, “it felt good. First time in a very long time.”
Nick Nurse mentioned that he can be on a minutes restriction and the Raptors ahead completed yesterday’s sport proper at 25 minutes performed.
Siakam’s highway again to the court docket wasn’t straightforward, however he mentioned his skill to return confirmed that he’s “product of one thing.”
Siakam was instantly inserted into the beginning lineup as Toronto embraced positionless basketball to the fullest.
Total, he seemed rusty at occasions, as anticipated when coming off an prolonged layoff. Nevertheless, he hit his first shot of the season and was near his normal self on the defensive finish of the ground.
“I believed Pascal, for conditioning … didn’t look unhealthy,” Nurse mentioned after the sport.
Nurse’s selection of starters (Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr, OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, and Siakam) was fascinating. Nevertheless, neither Khem Birch nor Valuable Achiuwa has separated within the competitors for middle minutes.
So slightly than attempting to resolve whether or not Siakam or Barnes was higher suited to come back off the bench, Nurse opted simply to place each on the ground.
The size and flexibility that an Anunoby, Barnes, and Siakam frontcourt offers the Raptors are tantalizing. As Siakam will get nearer to All-Star type, that group might assist hold Toronto in playoff competition.
VanVleet is one more reason that Toronto is exceeding preseason expectations.
When the Raptors closed the primary half, it was VanVleet who was the driving drive. He pushed the tempo and helped Toronto benefit from the Brooklyn Nets’ porous transition protection.
He completed the sport with 21 factors and eight assists, persevering with his strong begin to his first 12 months because the crew’s orchestrator.
VanVleet believes that the crew is extra cohesive this 12 months, which has helped them play properly out of the gates and ease the method of bringing Siakam again alongside.
“Our chemistry is slightly bit higher. We’re slightly bit tighter,” VanVleet mentioned.
But, the mixed firepower of James Harden (28 factors, 10 rebounds, eight assists) and Kevin Durant (31 factors, seven rebounds, seven assists) proved an excessive amount of ultimately.
Harden and Durant made it identified that they have been anticipating the power from the Raptors crowd.
This was Durant’s first sport in Toronto since he ruptured his Achilles within the 2019 NBA Finals.
Brooklyn outscored Toronto within the first (29-26), third (35-17), and fourth (28-26) quarters. In these three quarters, Durant and Harden powered the Nets offense.
Durant scored 12 factors within the first and 13 factors within the third, whereas Harden clinched the sport with 16 factors within the fourth.
Toronto’s protection made life troublesome for each, however nice offense beats wonderful protection at a sure level.
Barnes, Anunoby, Trent Jr., and Siakam all hung out on every famous person. Nonetheless, Brooklyn did a superb job of utilizing ball screens to drive the Raptors into switches and supply Durant and Harden the chance to work in opposition to lesser defenders.
Regardless of the loss, this sport needs to be checked out as a feather within the Raptor’s cap.
The second quarter, through which Toronto received 34-24, showcased the chances of this 12 months’s crew.
Nurse agreed. “I believe the second quarter — that’s the way you’d draw up what it needed to seem like,” Nurse mentioned.
The size and athleticism have been on full show. Barnes had a three-possession sequence late within the second, the place he pressured three turnovers.
First, he picked up Harden full court docket and hounded him till he needed to cross to Joe Harris as an outlet, after which picked off Harris’ cross again. Subsequent, he sprung a entice onto Durant as he tried to put up up VanVleet and knocked the ball away. Lastly, in what is definitely essentially the most Barnes spotlight of the season, he snatched the ball proper out of Durant’s fingers.
“We have been all over the place,” Nurse mentioned, “Each time someone turned, someone else was there, after which we have been out and working.”
No one thought they’d have gotten off to the beginning they’ve, and though the ultimate rating appears to be like slightly one-sided, Toronto was proper within the sport till the very finish.
A wholesome and rehabbed Siakam might jumpstart this crew to the higher echelon of the Japanese Convention, which appears to be like slightly extra open than many thought by way of the primary few weeks.
Tip Brandon Jefferson
Siakam’s return isn’t sufficient to get Raptors previous Nets originated on Raptors Republic.