ORLANDO, Fla. – The last time Orlando Magic hosted a playoff game in 2012, Toronto Raptor striker Pascal Siakam had just started playing basketball. Seven years later, a polished and self-fulfilling Siakam dominated the third game on Friday as Toronto beat Orlando 98-93 to take a 2-1 lead.
"He's amazing," said Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry. "His personality is just to go play and have fun."
With a flurry of dribbling attacks, post-ups and long-range bombs, Siakam paced the Raptors in a lazy offensive game with 30 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists. He joined Chris Bosh as the only player in the history of the Raptors to score 30 points and 10 rebounds in a playoff match, according to ESPN statistics, and LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo as the only players last five seasons to achieve this feat without a turnover.
"Some of the things I guess I'm a little shocked at the way he's done them," said Raptors goaltender Danny Green. "[Lowry] throws a half-lob lob and he catches and calculates what to do when he's up there. Pretty impressive, some of its finishes around the basket – difficult angles, like: "I do not know how I managed to get that in." "
According to Green, a Siakam bucket is not always produced with the kind of grace and fluidity that accompanies elite markers. There are a number of moments in the sequence of movements that, unless you are familiar with his game, could leave an observer paused, especially when Siakam is working off the dribble. Its slender limbs may seem mechanical, random decisions taken at random. An elite rebounder, he will swallow misses on the defensive side and load the ground with the ball – sometimes with a shot, sometimes without.
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Yet, more and more this season – a season in which he seems to be a lock to win the NBA's most improved player title – the result is effective, as it was Friday night, when he compiled an effective percentage of 72.5 out of 20 attempts. While the Toronto leader was playing his third season overall, Siakam has been the constant variable in a changing lineup. In doing so, often in the absence of Lowry and Kawhi Leonard, Siakam has created more offense for himself.
"Being able to play plays a lot, helping me navigate defense and find open players or score goals," Siakam said. "It's mainly about becoming more comfortable with the game, understanding its pace and not rushing like I did before."
Before the game, Raptors coach Nick Nurse had been questioned about the emergence of Siakam this season as a "third option" for his team. The nurse responded that he was counting on Siakam as the team's second option, while Lowry was performing the versatile task of game management. After the match, the Nurse jokingly said, "We will have to pass it from our third option."
The versatility of Siakam allows him to maintain his dominance of the game for long periods. A catalog of Siakam's 13 goals in the third match illustrates all possible trends in the offensive:
Master position against lean Jonathan Isaac, who defended Siakam in regular season.
Moving to the wing in transition to receive a pass from Lowry at the break.
Ballet pick-and-roll with Raptors backup guard, Fred VanVleet.
A dribble that attacks from the ground.
Corralling a beautiful lowry mid-lob lob at the edge and dropping it.
Kyle Lowry passes the ball to the hoop of the half-court to Pascal Siakam, who finishes with a lay-up.
And then there were several cases on Friday night where Siakam's size and skill package was just too much for the Magic. As Lowry pointed out in his post-match eulogy: "We understand that this year he has often lost the pace," and this was often the case in the third game. Siakam amassed eight points by intimidating Terrence Ross (three times) and Evan Fournier (once). ) in the middle of the pole for easy looks.
This is the hour of the playoffs. Do not miss these games.
Saturday (HE hours)
• Bucks-Pistons | 20h | ESPN
• Rockets-Jazz | 22:30. | ESPN
• Celtics-Pacers | 13h | ESPN
• Warriors-Clippers | 15:30. | ESPN
One night when Leonard was in bad weather and did not fight the adversary with his usually brutal efficiency, Siakam was indispensable. Less than two years after winning the title of most valuable player in the G League final, he took on the role of match-up nightmare, taking control of the series.
Watching Siakam perform a post-match interview in the Amway Center just after the ring, Raptors president Masai Ujiri recounted Siakam's serendipity. original story of basketball. Ujiri noted that while Siakam 's sister did not live in Johannesburg in 2012, the year Siakam attended the Basketball Sans Frontières Youth Camp, he may have been enrolled in the school. pastoral school, which was the original plan of the Siakam family.
When Green learned, during the post-match media session, that his teammate he had just witnessed the control of a playoff playoff match was from green to basketball, he was floored. He went so far as to interrupt Siakam to verify this improbability.
"Really?!" Green said. "I did not know it, sorry, keep going."
"It feels new again and every night I'm out, I'm better," said Siakam. "I think it's the beauty of the thing, knowing that you're not where you want to be, there's something new that you can learn every day, it's exciting." . "