Title: ‘New’ Raptors suffer all-too-familiar loss in playoff opener, but Siakam offers chance for change
Date: April 13, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic, I wrote about the Raptors’ Game 1 performance being all too familiar but Pascal Siakam offering a glimpse of change to the narrative.
Pascal Siakam’s growth is the great insulator.
Rather, when the Raptors don’t rely on it to this extreme a degree, it very well could be.
For years, the Raptors’ playoff struggles were defined by the under-performance of a pair of stars, the exact relationship of those struggles a little muddied. Kyle Lowry still drove team performance in terms of plus-minus and other on-off metrics. DeMar DeRozan, meanwhile, proved a large negative despite his obvious importance. While Lowry seemed the lesser cause — and his performance the last two-and-a-half postseasons should have corrected his reputation more than it has — at times he struggled to fill the scoring void created by DeRozan’s struggles.
This isn’t meant as a referendum on the DeRozan-Lowry partnership or narrative after Lowry turned in a historic zero-point performance in Saturday’s 104-101 Game 1 loss to Orlando. (Lowry became just the 10th player to go scoreless in a playoff game in which he took at least six 3-point attempts and the first to do so with free-throw attempts.) Those are debates that require a larger sample — of Lowry without DeRozan, of DeRozan without Lowry — and ones that might not change anyone’s mind even if evidence mounted one way or the other.