RAPTORS BLOG: Some critics of Siakam and VanVleet need a reality check

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The sports media cycle can be exhausting at times, as can the reactions of some “fans”.

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Build players just to break them down. Rinse and repeat. Sometimes it’s right, but very often it lacks a lot of context and common sense.

Which isn’t to say that Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam didn’t deserve some criticism heading into Game 4 of a potential playoff sweep at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers.

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VanVleet shot 35%, Siakam 40%. Both fould too much and weren’t defensive themselves. But some reactions were exaggerated. Siakam re-established himself as one of the NBA’s top 20 players this season, while VanVleet made his first all-star appearance. They led the Raptors to a surprising fifth-place finish in the East. Is it their fault that they tied the league lead in minutes per game and were basically crushed to the ground? Is it on them that the future of the franchise, Scottie Barnes, one of the best players on the floor in his debut in the playoffs, was injured? Or that the front office decided they didn’t need a real roster center or a viable back-up playmaker/back-up ball handler to make life easier over a long season for the star. shortest in the NBA, VanVleet? VanVleet puts everything on the line every night. It’s also not sustainable for a playoff run. They need help. And they’ve delivered in the past as key cogs in a title winner (and before that as the core of the NBA’s top reserve group), so I don’t buy the lazy comparisons. with perennial playoff losses to DeMar DeRozan.

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The Raptors are still ahead of schedule, but the front office and, to some extent, the coaching staff should absorb some of the blame placed on the team’s two veteran leaders.

Once Barnes becomes the MVP and Siakam and VanVleet settle into great 2A and B roles, the Raptors will be in great shape. A real center and an extra ball handler will also help a lot.

Siakam and VanVleet would be the first to tell you that they failed to live up to expectations for this series. All of the above doesn’t completely excuse them, but it does add crucial context that too often is missing.

– If you want a little optimism, the Raptors went 11-9 in Game 4 of the all-time playoffs, including wins in six straight games. Can they run to seven and extend their season?

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– Plus there’s play from OG Anunoby, the best Raptor so far in this series, Precious Achiuwa (those last free throws aside) and Chris Boucher. Oh, and despite all the criticism, Siakam and VanVleet both have gaudy assist-to-sales ratios and VanVleet is averaging 2.3 steals per game, even at well under 100%. The tales would be very different if Joel Embiid’s crazy shot hadn’t gone down and with the series at 2-1 after a Raptors win. Especially with the news dropping Friday night that Embiid is dealing with a possibly torn tendon on his pulling hand.


1 – Joel Embiid

2 – OG Anunoby

3 – Tyrese Maxey

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