What to make of Pascal Siakam's shaky Game 3
After a fairly solid first half, Pascal Siakam looked tentative and was often deferring to his teammates down the stretch of Game 3. Imman Adan and Kate Bagshaw discuss what they saw from the forward.
IMMAN ADAN: So I have people talking about-- in the comments, I'm seeing a lot of Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam talk. So I want to start with Pascal.
KATE BAGSHAW: Sorry, sorry, Imman, can you repeat that?
IMMAN ADAN: Yeah, so I'm just looking through the comments. And I'm seeing a lot of Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet talk. So I wanted to ask you first, how would you evaluate Pascal Siakam's game?
KATE BAGSHAW: You know, the first half of his game, I thought it was great. He was aggressive. You know, he was making both offensive, defensive plays. He was really getting to his spots. I have no complaints with the first half of his game.
And even into mid-- I just think the second half of his game is where it started to break down. I'm not sure what happened to his handle. I'm not sure if it's tired legs or if he was lapsing in concentration.
The thing with Pascal Siakam is he's really a player-- and I wrote this down in the first half of the game. I wrote this down-- you know, Pascal's already talking to himself in the second quarter. When Pascal's talking to himself, you know he's really feeling himself.
He's a guy that really feeds off of the energy. That's why I think he plays so great at home sometimes. He really gets into the crowd. He starts to really feel it, and he starts to feel his game.
It's easy for him, however unfortunately, and even still as a max player, I think this is still something that he is learning how to push through, is when he's having difficulties, or when he's tired or challenged in some ways, he does tend to go on a run that can be a little bit negative. And seeing him defer and pass the ball out and not get aggressive in the third and fourth quarter, you know, I think we saw the results of that in terms of the offense. Because it really did stagnate when we don't have Pascal doing what he does best and running over Tobias Harris. Nobody can guard him on that team. So you know, it's just unfortunate that he seemed to lose his-- lose his mojo in the second half.
And I don't really understand what really happened because he still had a great game on paper. He still was getting what he needed to get in terms of filling out the stat sheet. But unfortunately, getting those stats in the crunch minutes, we didn't really see that today out of Pascal.
IMMAN ADAN: Yeah, it was really interesting, weird. I wonder what was wrong. I wish he could do an interview that was completely unfiltered just to get what happened in that second half.
Because a lot of it did remind me of an older Pascal, not an older as in a Pascal Siakam in the future, but a Pascal Siakam that we've seen him progress past, right? The handle looked shaky. And that was something where, like, it started--
KATE BAGSHAW: [INAUDIBLE] lost it a couple of times, which is really--
IMMAN ADAN: He really-- it was--
KATE BAGSHAW: I don't see--
IMMAN ADAN: --a few times where I'm like, this isn't a Pascal that I'm used to watching. This is a Pascal that feels like--
KATE BAGSHAW: You know, Pascal's handle was always a little bit, like, you know--
IMMAN ADAN: Herky-jerky?
KATE BAGSHAW: --baby foal who's just getting his legs under him.
IMMAN ADAN: Very much.
KATE BAGSHAW: It always works for him. I'm never worried that he's going to lose the ball. And there was a couple of times--
IMMAN ADAN: [INAUDIBLE]
KATE BAGSHAW: --in I think it was in the fourth quarter where it really felt like they might get a steal on him, or--
IMMAN ADAN: Yeah.
KATE BAGSHAW: --he might lose the ball out of bounds.
IMMAN ADAN: Think it was three times--
KATE BAGSHAW: And that's just not the Pascal that I'm used to seeing. I don't think we've seen that guy for a while.
IMMAN ADAN: And honestly, I don't think we have. It seemed like he progressed past that. But there were a few times-- not only that, there were some moments where he got to his spots. You know, he was at the elbow, and he pulls up, and it just would not go down. And sometimes that happens.
And I think the next step that I would like to see Pascal Siakam take is, what do you have when your shot isn't falling? Yes, he can give you everything that you're going to need on the defensive end. But what on offense can you do when-- and we can talk about ethical basketball and unethical basketball.
But in years past, DeMar DeRozan is someone that we've seen-- the Raptors offense with DeMar and Kyle did struggle in the playoffs as well. And there would be moments where it was very stagnant. And what would happen is DeMar DeRozan would get to the line, right?
We see it with James Harden. He's going to-- the Sixers offense was stagnating there as well in that fourth quarter. And what did James Harden do before he fouled out? He got to the line.
Did he miss one? Yes, thank you so much, James Harden, but-- I guess not anymore, it was still a loss. But he got to the line.
And that was one thing that we've seen James Harden do. We also see James Harden, as one of the best passers in the game, really, really be able to step up and make plays that way, where it seems like Pascal Siakam isn't passing to make a play. Pascal Siakam is passing to not be the one to take the shot, right? It seems like he's deferring to his teammates. And I don't want to see Pascal Siakam defer to Precious Achiuwa.
And I'm grateful for these moments because as much as it is learning and development for guys like Precious Achiuwa-- and we wished it would be Scottie Barnes, but unfortunately he's injured-- it's still a learning moment. And it's still development for Pascal Siakam and for Fred VanVleet. And it's really interesting to see what they can bring when their shots aren't falling.
And for Fred, he was jacking up quite a few 3's. We see that Fred, sometimes he gets hot and he's going to hit a clutch shot. But sometimes that's not going to be there for you. And I think you have to live or die by that.
And I'm fine with that. But on Fred-- on Pascal's side, I'm really interested to see what is the next step. What can he bring when that shot isn't falling?