‘He’s unbelievable’: Pascal Siakam’s postseason star turn

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The last time the Orlando Magic hosted a postseason game in 2012, Toronto Raptors power forward Pascal Siakam had just started playing organized basketball. Seven years later, a polished and self-fulfilled Siakam dominated Game 3 on Friday as Toronto held off Orlando 98-93 to take a 2-1 series lead.

“He’s unbelievable,” Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry said. “His personality is just to go play and have fun.”

With a flurry of dribble attacks, post-ups and long-range bombs, Siakam paced the Raptors in an otherwise sluggish offensive game with 30 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists. He joined Chris Bosh as the only player in Raptors history to score 30 points and collect 10 rebounds in a playoff game, per ESPN Stats & Information, and LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo as the only players in the past five seasons to achieve that feat without a turnover.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

“Some of the things, I guess I’m kind of shocked at how he completes them,” Raptors shooting guard Danny Green said. “[Lowry] throws a half-court lob and he catches it and figures out what to do when he’s up there. Pretty impressive, some of his finishes around the basket — tough angles, like, ‘I don’t know how I got that to go in.'”7

To Green’s point, a Siakam bucket isn’t always produced with the sort of grace and fluidity that accompany elite scorers. There are any number of moments in the sequence of movements that, unless you’re familiar with his game, might give an observer pause, especially when Siakam is working off the dribble. His lanky limbs can appear mechanical, the snapshot decisions random. An elite rebounder, he’ll gobble up missed shots on the defensive end and charge up the floor with the ball — sometimes with a plan, sometimes without.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Yet increasingly this season — one in which he looks to be a lock to win the NBA’s Most Improved Player award — the output is efficient, as it was on Friday night, when he compiled an effective field goal percentage of 72.5 on 20 attempts. As Toronto’s leader in minutes played in his third overall season, Siakam served as the constant variable in a lineup that was in flux. In doing so, often in the absence of Lowry and Kawhi Leonard, Siakam created more offense for himself.

“Being able to make plays goes a lot, helps me navigate the defense and find open guys or score myself,” Siakam said. “It’s mostly just getting more comfortable with the game and understanding the pace of the game and not rushing like I used to do.”

Before the game, Raptors coach Nick Nurse was asked about Siakam’s emergence this season as his team’s “third option.” Nurse replied that he relied on Siakam as the team’s second option, with Lowry fulfilling the all-purpose task of game management. After the game, Nurse quipped, “We’ll have to move him up from our third option.”