Pascal Siakam on return vs. Cavaliers, watching from the bench

Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam discusses how he felt in his return to the lineup and what he noticed as an observer on the bench while he was out.

Video Transcript

PASCAL SIAKAM: It feels good, It feels good, just-- obviously, missed it. So excited to be back, just playing basketball.

- Any-- did it feel-- like, it didn't look like any rush. But did it feel like it was anything?

PASCAL SIAKAM: I mean, yeah, I feel like, again, I got to get my legs under me, obviously, which is expected, not being able to play at that speed. And the game is different, you know? Like, I've been working, but-- but it's different just game speed and all that and being able to sustain it for a long time. And-- and yeah, like, I felt like I did OK, you know. And I got to continue to get better and just again, once I get my legs under me, I can, kind of, provide a little bit more. But-- but yeah, like, just good. Good to be out there.

- The first half in particular, it looked like that Brooklyn game, where the ball wasn't hitting the rim. It was just straight in.

PASCAL SIAKAM: It did?

[LAUGHTER]

- It did.

PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah. No, obviously, like, I think the biggest thing is, like, when you come back from an injury, it's like, you know, like, your legs and getting shots and seeing the ball go through the hoop. And obviously, that feels good, you know, once you get that rhythm.

But again, like, these are just things that I feel like I can do anytime really. And it wasn't nothing that's like, you know, that felt like super hard or difficult or like things I had to force or anything. Like, it just felt like just the game. And I think that when I play like that, like, it's just how it is, you know? I just got to-- sometimes it's going to go in, sometimes not. But obviously, I like the fact that it went in today.

- [INAUDIBLE] out for a while often talk a lot about what they learned about the team watching from the bench. Is there anything you picked up on that you didn't necessarily see as well while you were on the floor for those first couple of--

PASCAL SIAKAM: I mean, I think that, again, like, I just felt like certain things that I can just-- I can just bring. Like, I just bring energy to the team. I can just bring a lot-- a lot of different things and seeing when guys kind of get going or like, when they-- they hang their heads a little bit. like, just little things.

Like, just trying to go out there and give them a little boost and everything, just encourage. And maybe like, sitting down, you see more of those things. And when I get to the game, it just feels like, oh, man. Oh I just-- I saw-- that happened last game and maybe I can do something or. So just little things. Like, nothing crazy.

- Nick often talks about the 20-game arc is sort of the time every year where you can get a sense of who you are as a team and how good you can be. You missed half of it.

PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah.

- And a lot of the other guys have too. Like, is this year different in that sense? Like, do you think it's going to-- do-- are you able to kind of get the sense--

PASCAL SIAKAM: No, it's hard. Again, like, it's hard because we didn't have our whole team for a while. So you know, how do you evaluate that for real? But-- but I think like, one thing I said before, it was like, man, like, we feel so bad because it's like we're not winning games all the time like we want to. And it's like, man, we feel bad about ourselves and the mood goes down and things like that.

And I was just, you know, I just wanted to remind everyone like, it's like, this is not normal. Like, we didn't have a normal team and-- and you know, we was losing games that we felt like we could win, you know? So that will happen. And I think that we just got to stay positive, continue to work, and just find our rhythm.

Like, again, having everybody back just feels good. Like, the bench just feels full, you know? Like, just that, you know? Like, sometimes, you watch the bench and it's like, there's nobody on the bench, you know? And that feels depressing, just that alone. So I think just having everyone and just-- I just want everyone to just stay positive. Like, we're going to get-- we're going to get a run, hopefully. And as long as we play together, stay together, you know, again, we're going to be OK.

- OG was saying the other day that he feels like he's really grown as a player over these last few weeks, just the experience of having to read the game and having different defensive coverages and all of that. And obviously, he's played really well over the last few weeks. Did you notice a difference. Like, did he seem like a different player to you in the way that you guys were playing off of each other tonight?

PASCAL SIAKAM: Oh, nah. I think like, OG, again, is just focused. Like, he's focused on everything. Like, he wants to play defense. Like, he guards the best player. Like, I think for me, like, that's just that. Like, that focus. I just always felt like OG was gifted.

Like, there's nothing out there that he-- he can't really do. Like, he just-- like, he has the body, he has the physique, he has the athleticism. Like, he can do that. And I think that once for me, like, I feel like he understood that like, I can just really do, you know? Like, I can really guard anybody and I can really use my body and things like that. I think that's what's going to continue to take him to that level and just like, kind of, embracing that.

And sometimes, you want to find yourself into the offense and like, how do I score? But like, sometimes, just doing the little things gets you to score. Like, sometimes, it doesn't feel like it. But most of the time like, you know, the basketball gods will just kind of reward you for just being and playing and playing the right way and wanting to be the best in some other areas. And sometimes, it just fills up the other things. Like, it just happens.

- How do you feel Gary and Scottie responded to coming off the bench tonight?

PASCAL SIAKAM: What happened?

- How do you feel Gary and Scottie responded to coming off the bench?

PASCAL SIAKAM: Oh, no. I think, again, like, this is the NBA. Like, we just-- like, sometimes, coaches make decisions. And you just got to go out there and play. I think they did a good job. You know, they came in, bringing energy, trying to find their spots. And again, Scottie is coming back from injury. And-- and, you know, Gary's just trying to find himself. So I thought they did well.

- An easier one, did you watch the Cameroon match today? And were you up for it or did you watch it--

PASCAL SIAKAM: No, yeah. It was super crazy. Like, I mean, I watched the first half, and then I'm like, man, I have a game tonight. If I don't sleep, I don't think I'll be able to play tonight. But-- but then seeing the score, I mean, it was just crazy, crazy game. Wish we would have won that one, though. But-- but yeah, I guess we didn't have-- we didn't have to do this, but I guess now we have to beat Brazil, I guess. Like, feel bad about it. But hey, it is what it is.

- [INAUDIBLE] talk [INAUDIBLE] in advance? I saw--

PASCAL SIAKAM: Oh, no, no, no, no. I can't. I can't do that. I'm not going to-- I'm not going to do the Canada thing.

[LAUGHTER]

No, no. That was a joke, that was a joke.

- We're still not laughing about that.

- That touch-pass to OG in transition, were you like, touch-pass the minute-- how early did you see that pass opening up?

PASCAL SIAKAM: Nah, just-- to be honest, I can't even tell you. Things like that just happen. Like, I could sit there and be like, oh, man, like, I saw it from a mile away and I had this thing planned. Like, it is what it has. Just happened, basketball play.

- Do you take more joy in plays like that or in the jumpers?

PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah, no, I love setting up my teammates and getting them going, and I think which for me, like, that's just understanding the game a little bit more and wanting to be that person that kind of elevates the game for us. And that comes with that. Like, that comes with a defensive style, that comes with ball pressure, that comes with getting a teammate open shots. And again, for me, just as a basketball player, just wanting to make cool plays like that.

- Is there a difference to having those guys come off the bench and having a different starting group, having more firepower off the bench [INAUDIBLE]?

PASCAL SIAKAM: That's a coaching question. I don't know, man. I just go out there and play, whoever is out there. Like, that's just what I focused on. And I just try to-- I think we have-- the way our team is constructed anyway, it's like anyone anywhere can play anybody or like anywhere or whatever. So I just focus on that.

- With that in mind, I think maybe halfway through your absence, Nick said something like, I think we've found something with Thad at the 5 offensively and defensively. Now that you're back out there with him, sort of, in that position, what's it like playing with him?

PASCAL SIAKAM: I think Thad is-- he's been great for us. Like, again, obviously with everyone out, he had an opportunity to play. I know that in the beginning, he didn't really play, but just got an opportunity. He's been playing super well, like, reading the game, guarding the other bigs.

And-- and again, he's-- I mean, how many years is that for him? Like, he's been doing that for a while. And I think that he's huge for us. And I think that was always something, just having that veteran presence. And now, he's getting the minutes, you know. I don't know, how many minutes he played? 26. Yeah, that's not bad. Yeah, at least it's not nothing like 40 or something. I don't think we can have Thad playing a lot of them 40-minute games, maybe keep it for me and some of the other guys out there. Yeah, yeah. But he was good. Thad has been great for us, like, to be honest.

- Pascal, yeah, you are performing better and better every season. My question is, have you already reached your best level, or do you still have new things to show us?

PASCAL SIAKAM: I just want to continue to evolve as a player. I think that, again, I have like, why not? Why not continue to get better? Like-- like, I said, like, I want to be the best that I can be. Like, when I'm done with my career, I want to sit back and be like, man, like, I did everything that I could and I tried to do everything that I could to be the best that I could be. And I'll sleep happy just knowing that I did that. And sometimes, it's like, not just wanting that, it's like also putting to work for it. And I do that every day. So like, that's-- I want to reach for the best, whatever that is. Like, I don't know.

- Being an all-star yourself, do you think OG is already in that kind of conversation?

PASCAL SIAKAM: I don't know. OG is playing well. Like, I think-- I think for me, he's just got to continue doing what he's doing and just focus on the things that he's been focusing on. Like, he's going to be-- he's going to be good. So I'm not going to put anything out there. I just-- I just want him to focus on just being the best player that he can be. I think as long as we continue to play together and continue to win, like, we're going to have multiple all-stars. And I don't think that we should worry about that anyway.

- Thank you.

- Thanks very much.

[INTERPOSING VOICES]