You can bet Pascal Siakam didn’t spend his 26th birthday the way he wanted to or has in the past. Siakam, a noted gym rat who likes nothing better than working on his game, would, in normal times, have been getting a few shots up at the Raptors practice facility on the bridge day between…
ou can bet Pascal Siakam didn’t spend his 26th birthday the way he wanted to or has in the past. Siakam, a noted gym rat who likes nothing better than working on his game, would, in normal times, have been getting a few shots up at the Raptors practice facility on the bridge day between games against NBA-leading Milwaukee, Toronto’s opponent in last year’s Eastern Conference final.
Instead, he was cooped inside like the rest of us. The COVID-19 pandemic shut down the entire world and also put a pause on Siakam’s second straight breakout season. The league’s reigning most improved player took several more steps forward in 2019-20, emerging as Toronto’s top scoring option, as well as an ultra-elite defender.
The good news for Raptors fans is that there is no reason to think he is done improving and he’ll do it in Canada. Siakam signed a long-term, max-deal before the season, which should keep him in Toronto for at least four more years.
“(He’s) somebody we’re definitely going to keep for a long time here,” Raptors president Masai Ujiri had said before the deal was even signed. “And we see what the potential of that could be.” In a recent Instagram Live chat, DeMar DeRozan said Siakam had “the blueprint” to become the greatest Raptor ever in time.
One of the key requirements of being an NBA agent is spending plenty of in-person time with your clients. Of course, that’s an impossibility these days, with measures in place to try to stem the coronavirus pandemic. Self-quarantining and social distancing are the themes of the moment, so everyone needs to adapt, including in the…
Todd Ramasar said he’s talking to Pascal Siakam and the rest of his clients more frequently in lieu of being able to visit.
“Because, I think more than anything, and this is not just for athletes, you just talk about the effects on mental health. Kind of being in self-isolation,” Ramasar told Postmedia in a phone interview. “Even with family and loved ones, just having your normal routine taken away overnight, it takes its toll on anybody. So, for a lot of my guys, it’s just making sure they’re good,” he said.
Information is constantly arriving as we all go through his odd period and it’s no different for professional athletes. Ramasar says questions have been evolving as more is learned and as more time passes.
“The initial conversations were mainly business. Also their health and safety. But now that we’re a week into this, it’s more like, ‘Are you good. How can we be helpful?’” he said.
“A lot of them are staying (put), can’t go work out at their facilities. So trying to get workout equipment into their homes and talk to their teams. Just making sure that they’re not getting stir-crazy just sitting in their homes. Since there aren’t very many activities for them to do,” Ramasar said.
“There’s literally nothing. You can’t go to the movies, you can’t go shopping. You can’t go out to eat. Everything is from home base. And for these guys, where their internal clock has been on the road traveling (for 41 road outings or more) or going to a game or, you know, interacting with (team) staff and personnel. That camaraderie. And then, overnight, that’s taken away or that shifts. That’s tough,” Ramasar told Postmedia.
It’s also difficult because nobody knows what’s next, or how long it might take before training and games can resume.
“It’s tough to say, I mean I think it’s gonna be challenging the longer this plays out. Because it’s not a matter of logistics,” Ramasar said when asked to opine on when the league will be back. “I think for the NBA to return the season, say, in mid-June, it’s more of a matter that these guys are going to need at least a month to practice and find the rhythm and the chemistry again that they would have lost over that extended period of time. Because, what you don’t want to do is put these high-level athletes back on the floor without practice. To throw them out there in a high-level environment, which would be the playoffs (and potentially the end of the regular season), I think it’ll put them in harm’s way and increase the likelihood of serious injury. And that’s the challenge.”
Toronto Raptors : Brissett, Oshae Out G League – Two-Way Gasol, Marc Out Injury/Illness – Left Hamstring; Tightness – Injury management Hernandez, Dewan Out Injury/Illness – Right Ankle; Sprain VanVleet, Fred Out Injury/Illness – Left Shoulder; Soreness Watson, Paul Out G League – Two-Way Utah Jazz : Brantley, Jarrell Out G League – Two-Way Morgan, Juwan Available G League – On Assignment Tucker, Rayjon Available G League – On Assignment Williams-Goss, Nigel Out Injury/Illness – Left Quad; Contusion Wright-Foreman, Justin Out G League – Two-Way
RAPTORS NOTES • The Toronto Raptors complete a five-game Western Conference road trip (Mar. 1-9) Monday night when they visit the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. The Raptors have won three in a row vs. Utah. With a victory Monday, Toronto would sweep the season-series with the Jazz for the fifth time in the last seven seasons. Since the start of the 2013-14 season, the Raptors are 11-2 against Utah. • In the first meeting this season (Dec. 1), Pascal Siakam scored 35 points, Fred VanVleet had 21 points and 11 assists, and the Raptors used a record-setting first half to beat the Jazz 130-110. Toronto led 77-37 at the intermission, the biggest halftime lead in franchise history, the biggest in the NBA this season, and tied for the eighth largest in league history. It also marked the biggest halftime deficit in Jazz history. • Norman Powell scored a game-high 31 points Mar. 8 at Sacramento. Powell has now scored 30+ points in consecutive games (Mar. 5-8) for the first time in his career, including a career-high 37 points Thursday at Golden State. He is averaging 37.0 points and is shooting .571 (24-42) from the field, including 50 percent (10-20) from three-point range, over the last two games. Three of Powell’s four career 30-point outings have come this season. • Toronto is currently 9-3 on the road vs. the Western Conference. The Raptors are the only Eastern Conference team to finish with a +.500 record on the road against the west in each of the last five seasons (2015-20). Since the start of the 2015-16 campaign, Toronto is 44-28 (.611) when facing a Western Conference opponent away from Scotiabank Arena. • Pascal Siakam is averaging career highs of 23.6 points and 7.5 rebounds through 52 games played this season. Only two players in Raptors history have finished a season averaging at least 23.0 points and 7.0 rebounds: Chris Bosh in 2009–10 (24.0, 10.8) and Kawhi Leonard in 2018–19 (26.6, 7.3). • OG Anunoby finished 12 points and two rebounds Sunday at Sacramento. Anunoby has now scored in double figures in a career-high six straight games (Feb. 25 – Mar. 8). He is averaging 16.0 points and is shooting .565 (35-62) from the floor, including 52 per cent (13-25) from three-point distance, during this span. Anunoby scored a career-best 32 points Mar. 1 at Denver. • Norman Powell and Kyle Lowry scored 31 and 30 points, respectively, Sunday vs. the Kings. The duo became just the fifth starting backcourt to each score 30 points in a game for Toronto, joining Lowry and DeMar DeRozan (four times), Mike James and Morris Peterson (twice), Vince Carter and Jalen Rose (once) and DeRozan and Cory Joseph (once). Over the last five games (Feb. 28 – Mar. 8), Lowry and Powell have combined to average 52.4 points. • The Raptors have not lost games on consecutive days since Dec. 26–27, 2017 (at Dallas and Oklahoma City). Toronto has played 30 pairs of games on back-to-back days since then (not including the current back-to-back set), sweeping both games 12 times and splitting 18 times. • Toronto’s starting lineup combined for 111 points Sunday against Sacramento. The Raptors starting five shot .544 (37-68) from the field, including .459 (17-37) from beyond the arc.
• Contributed 12 points, two rebounds and one steal in 39 minutes Mar. 8 at Sacramento. • Toronto is 25-7 this season when Anunoby scores 10 or more points. • Shooting .520 (13-for-25) from three-point range over the last six games (Feb. 25 – Mar. 8).
• Finished with 23 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals in 38 minutes Mar. 8 at Sacramento. • Ranks 15th in the NBA in scoring (23.6); averaging 26.0 points against the West Conference this season. • Has scored 30+ points 15 times; had five 30-point performances in 80 games played last season.
• Recorded 15 points, a team-high 10 rebounds, five assists and two blocks in 36 minutes Mar. 8 at Sacramento. • Averaging 17.9 points, 9.0 rebounds and 31.3 minutes in 26 games as a starter this season. • Is the only player in NBA history with 500+ three-point field goals and 1,500+ blocks.
• Led all scorers with 31 points Mar. 8 at Sacramento; added five assists and two rebounds in 43 minutes. • Averaging 19.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 33.3 minutes in 22 start this season. • Has scored 20 or more points in five straight games (Feb. 28 – Mar. 8); averaging 28.0 points during this stretch.
• Totaled 30 points, a game-high eight assists, five rebounds and three steals in 36 minutes Mar. 8 at Sacramento. • Ranks seventh in the NBA in assists per game (7.7); has dished out 10+ assists 14 times. • Has scored 20+ points in four of the last five games (Feb. 28 – Mar. 8); averaging 24.4 points during this span.
TONIGHT’S GAME DETAILS Opponent: Utah Jazz Date: Monday, March 9 Tip-Off: 9 p.m. (ET) Venue: Vivint Smart Home Arena Television: TSN Radio: Sportsnet 590 The FAN
SERIES RECAP VS. UTAH
OVERALL HOME ROAD 2019-20 1-0 1-0 0-0 ALL-TIME 19-27 10-13 9-14 STREAKS Won 3 Won 2 Won 3
LAST WIN: December 1, 2019 (130-110)
LAST ROAD WIN: November 5, 2018 (124-111)
LARGEST MARGIN OF VICTORY: +24, November 9, 2013
LARGEST MARGIN OF DEFEAT: -32, December 7, 2012
LAST TIME VS. UTAH
GAME 19 – DECEMBER 1, 2019 TORONTO 130, UTAH 110
TORONTO — The Utah Jazz scored nine points in the first four minutes of the game … The Toronto Raptors scored 72 points over the next 20 … Pascal Siakam had 35 points, Fred VanVleet had 21 points and 11 assists, and the Raptors beat the Utah Jazz 130-110 with an historic first half … The Raptors led 77-37 through two quarters — the biggest halftime lead in Raptors history, and the largest in the league this season … It’s also tied for the eighth biggest halftime lead in NBA history, and the largest deficit at the break ever for Utah … The Raptors stretched their season-high winning streak to seven games … Norman Powell scored 15 points, Serge Ibaka had 13 in his first game since missing 10 with an ankle injury, Terence Davis had 13, Marc Gasol scored all 11 of his points in the first quarter, and OG Anunoby and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 10 apiece … Mike Conley had 20 points to lead Utah … Toronto took off on a 23-2 run in the first quarter … Utah found its form in the third quarter, shooting 60 per cent and paring Toronto’s lead briefly to 16 … Toronto held Utah to 5-for-25 shooting in the second quarter … The Jazz hit 16 of their first 19 shots in the third … Utah outscored Toronto 49-30 in third, and Toronto took a 107-86 advantage into the fourth.
1 2 3 4 TOT
UTAH 20 17 49 24 110
TORONTO 37 40 30 23 130
UTAH LAST GAME’S STARTERS (19-20 Averages)
44 BOJAN BOGDANOVIĆ F • 6-8 • 226 • Croatia PPG • 20.5 RPG • 4.2 APG • 2.1 • Posted career-highs in points (18.0), rebounds (4.1), assists (2.0), steals (0.9), field goal percentage (.497) and 3-point percentage (.425) last season with the Indiana Pacers • Ranked 38th in field goal percentage and 10th in 3-point percentage in the league last year
23 ROYCE O’NEALE F • 6-4 • 222 • Baylor PPG • 6.1 RPG • 5.3 APG • 2.6 • Has played internationally in Spain and Germany • Was born in Harker Heights, Texas • Third on the team in field goal percentage in 2018-19 (.475) (min. 200 attempts)
27 RUDY GOBERT C • 7-1 • 258 • Cholet Basket PPG • 15.2 RPG • 13.9 BPG • 2.0 • Two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year (2018, 2019) • 2016-17 All-NBA Second Team and 2018-19 All-NBA Third Team • First player since Wilt Chamberlain (1966-67) to total over 1,200 points on better than 65 percent shooting and 1,000 rebounds in a single season (2018-19)
45 DONOVAN MITCHELL G • 6-1 • 220 • Louisville PPG • 24.4 RPG • 4.4 APG • 4.3 • Led all NBA sophomores in scoring in 2018-19 (23.8 ppg) • Two-time Western Conference Player of the Week (1/6-1/13 & 2/25-3/3) • Tied career-high scoring 46 points against New Orleans on 1/16/20
10 MIKE CONLEY G • 6-0 • 180 • Ohio State PPG • 13.9 RPG • 3.2 APG • 4.3 • Currently one of only 10 active players to have totaled over 11,000 points, 4,500 assists, 2,000 rebounds and 1,000 steals. • Named to the 2012-13 All-NBA Defensive Second Team. • Named 2019 Twyman-Stokes teammate of the year. 2019.
DONOVAN FROM DEEP Donovan Mitchell has now made 528 three-point field goals in his career. He is fourth all time in the NBA in three pointers made in the first three seasons of his career, trailing Buddy Hield (602), Damian Lillard (599) and Klay Thompson (545).
BOGEY’S EFFICIENCY Bojan Bogdanović is currently one of two players in the NBA averaging over 20 points per game while shooting at least 40 percent from the field and 90 percent from the free throw line, joining the Bucks Khris Middleton.
ROAD DOMINANCE The Jazz this season have put together two road winning streaks of at least six games, the first coming 12/28/19 through 1/14/20 (six games), and the second being the current road win streak beginning on 2/9/20 (currently at six games). Per the Elias Sports Bureau, it’s the first time the Jazz have put together two separate road winning streaks of at least six games since the 1994-1995 season.
LAST 5 PLAYERS TO TOTAL 4,500+ PTS, 800+ REBS AND 800+ ASTS WITHIN THEIR FIRST 200 NBA GAMES # PLAYER GP PTS REBS ASTS 1 Donovan Mitchell 200 4,530 802 800 2 LeBron James 200 5,097 1,298 1,299 3 Dwyane Wade 200 4,564 1,005 1,212 4 Allen Iverson 200 4,699 827 1,272 5 Michael Jordan 200 6,351 1,120 1,030 FASTEST ACTIVE PLAYERS TO 1,000 BLOCKS Rank Player Games 1 Serge Ibaka 383 2 Anthony Davis 414 3 Rudy Gobert 462 MOST 20+ PT GAMES THROUGH FIRST 200 GAMES WITH JAZZ # PLAYER GP # 1 Donovan Mitchell 200 134 2 Darrell Griffith 200 121 3 Karl Malone 200 102 4 Deron Williams 200 49 5 Rodney Hood 200 33 MOST 30+ PT GAMES THROUGH FIRST 200 GAMES WITH JAZZ # PLAYER GP # 1 Donovan Mitchell 200 36 2 Darrell Griffith 200 26 3 Karl Malone 200 21 4 Deron Williams 200 7 5 Carlos Boozer 200 3 MOST PTS THROUGH FIRST 200 GAMES WITH JAZZ # PLAYER GP PTS 1 Donovan Mitchell 200 4,530 2 Darrell Griffith 200 4,172 3 Karl Malone 200 3,930 4 Deron Williams 200 2,939 5 Rodney Hood 200 2,518
THREE-POINTERS MADE IN FIRST THREE SEASONS # PLAYER 3PM 1 Buddy Hield 602 2 Damian Lillard 599 3 Klay Thompson 545 4 Donovan Mitchell 528 5 Kyle Korver 491
RUDY’S ALL-AROUND GAME Rudy Gobert is currently the only player in the NBA to be averaging a point-rebound double-double while also shooting greater than 65 percent from the field.
JAZZ JUMP SHOTS The Utah Jazz lead the NBA in three-point percentage (tied with Miami), shooting 38.3 percent from deep this season. The Jazz are also third in the NBA in field goal percentage at 47.6 percent.
46 FOR 45 On 1/16/20 against the New Orleans Pelicans, Donovan Mitchell poured in 46 points on 16 made field goals, including seven three-pointers. The 46 points ties a career-high for Mitchell, which he also scored last season against Milwaukee on 3/2/19.
BEATING THE BUZZER On 2/10 against the Houston, Bojan Bogdanovic buried a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Jazz a 114-113 win over Houston. There have been four buzzer beaters this season, with Bogdanovic hitting two of them. Bojan also helped Jazz defeated the Milwaukee Bucks on 11/8 thanks to a heroic three-pointer at the buzzer, giving him 33 points on the evening.
SUPER SECOND ROUNDER Bojan Bogdanović is currently posting 20.5 points per contest, which makes him tied for the second leading scorer in the league for all active players drafted in the second round just behind Spencer Dinwiddie (20.7).
COLORADO CLARKSON On 1/30/20 against the Denver Nuggets, Jordan Clarkson scored made 13 field goals, including seven made three-pointers, on his way to 37 points. This was a season high in scoring for Clarkson and the second highest scoring game off the bench in the NBA this year, trailing only a 42-point effort from Buddy Hield.
4K MITCHELL After putting in 22 points against Memphis on 12/7, Donovan Mitchell eclipsed the 4,000-point mark in his 179th career game. He becomes just the fourth Jazzman to record at least 4,000 points in less than 200 games, joining Adrian Dantley (135 games), Pete Maravich (165 games) and Darrell Griffith (194 games).
RESILIENT JAZZ By completing a comeback victory over the Wizards on 2/28, the Jazz recorded their 14th win of the season after trailing at halftime. This is the second most wins when trailing at half this year behind only the Denver Nuggets (16).
BIG MAN BUCKETS Rudy Gobert is second the NBA in field goal percentage this season, shooting 70.1 percent from the field. This mark is the highest shooting percentage of Gobert’s career.
30-POINT DUO During the 109-102 win against the Orlando Magic on 12/17, Donovan Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanović became the first Jazz duo to each tally 30-point games in a single contest since Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams did so against the Los Angeles Clippers on March 28, 2008.
FRENCHMEN CAN DUNK Rudy Gobert leads the NBA in dunks this season with 205. Giannis Antetokounmpo (174), Mitchell Robinson (172), Jarrett Allen (160) and Anthony Davis (142) round out the top five in dunks.
2019-20 NBA THREE POINT PERCENTAGE LEADERS # TEAM % T-1 Utah Jazz 0.383 T-1 Miami Heat 0.383 3 New Orleans Pelicans 0.373 T-4 Washington Wizards 0.371 T-4 Toronto Raptors 0.371 2ND ROUNDERS PPG PLAYER PPG 1 Khris Middleton 20.7 T-2 Spencer Dinwiddie 20.5 T-2 Bojan Bogdanovic 20.5 T-2 Nikola Jokic 20.5 FASTEST JAZZMEN TO 4,000 POINTS PLAYER GP 1 Adrian Dantley 135 2 Pete Maravich 165 3 Donovan Mitchell 179 4 Darrell Griffith 194 2019-20 NBA FIELD GOAL PERCENTAGE PLAYER FG% 1 Mitchell Robinson 0.734 2 Rudy Gobert 0.701 3 Jarrett Allen 0.645 4 Clint Capela 0.629 5 Brandon Clarke 0.623 2019-20 NBA DUNK LEADERS PLAYER DUNKS 1 Rudy Gobert 205 2 Giannis Antetokounmpo 174 3 Mitchell Robinson 172 4 Jarrett Allen 160 5
SACRAMENTO — It should be Saturday at the latest that Nick Nurse will have his full complement of players at his disposal.
Then it’s an entirely different form of tough for the head coach.
Rather than filling in the gaps, Nurse will be looking to juggle as many as seven deserving starters while trying to keep everyone happy.
Marc Gasol returned to the lineup Sunday after a 15 game-absence that combined with an earlier injury to the same left hamstring has seen him play just 36 of the 63 games so far this season.
Fred VanVleet, who was questionable coming into the Sacramento game will sit out at least one more and probably a second in Utah before making his return on Saturday once the team gets back home.
“I think we probably (give him the extra time) but we’ll see what happens here tonight,” Nurse said of VanVleet’s return date before the game in Sacramento. “He’s really close so he’ll certainly be in once we get back home but we’ll see what happens tonight with everyone.”
The thinking is that with four full days off between Monday’s game in Utah and Saturday’s at home against Detroit, the prudent decision would be to give the guy with the sore shoulder the extra time off rather than bring him back for one.
With Gasol back and Serge Ibaka playing at a very high level, the decision was made to bring Gasol off the bench for Monday’s game but to hear Nurse tell it that decision and a few more are going to be revisited very soon.
SAN FRANCISCO — What a fun era this We the North period has been. As I noted on Twitter:
Toronto Raptors past seven seasons: Seven playoff appearances, 1 title, 2 conference finals. Eight series wins.
Toronto Raptors first 18 seasons: Five playoff appearances, one series win (a best-of-five).
It’s amazing, when you think about just how brutal things were for so long, how everything has changed. Now the Raptors are one of the most respected, successful and profit-making franchises in the entire NBA.
SAN FRANCISCO — There was no championship on the line and the game wasn’t held in Oakland, but there was still some deja vu for the Raptors on Thursday night.
Just like last June, Toronto bested Golden State, spoiling the return of superstar guard Stephen Curry following a 58-game absence.
The Warriors fought hard, but were outlasted by the visitors 121-113.
Toronto clinched its seventh straight playoff appearance after making the post-season only five times in its first 18 seasons.
Norman Powell led the way with a career-high 37 points, Kyle Lowry added 26 and Serge Ibaka returned from a three-game absence and had 13 points and 13 rebounds. The Warriors missed two clutch free throws late and couldn’t connect from three twice after grabbing offensive rebounds, allowing the Raptors to pick up the victory. Curry scored 23 and added seven assists and seven rebounds in an impressive, rust-free performance.
The buzz was back in the Bay — Warriors head coach Steve Kerr joked pre-game about how many more media members had suddenly appeared, jumping on the bandwagon now that Curry was healthy. But the team was without Draymond Green and Kevon Looney, robbing the defence of any resistance, especially at the rim, while all-star guard Klay Thompson won’t play this season after tearing his ACL during the NBA Finals against Toronto. The Raptors weren’t whole either, though Ibaka played. Fred VanVleet and Marc Gasol were both not quite ready, but are close.
Curry looked as good as ever. He connected on a four-point play in the third quarter, buried three-pointers from all over the floor and made some clever passes against an opponent he always beats up on. Only Allen Iverson has averaged more points per game against the Raptors. His new sidekick Andrew Wiggins sparkled in the fourth quarter, finishing with 21 points and nine rebounds.