HomeSportsRaptors' one-two punch from Siakam, VanVleet stows Timberwolves

Raptors’ one-two punch from Siakam, VanVleet stows Timberwolves

Behind a stellar performance from Toronto’s one-two punch from Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam, the Raptors came away with a 122-107 victory against a shorthanded Minnesota Timberwolves team on Saturday night.

VanVleet scored a game-high 28 points and seven assists, while Siakam dropped 27 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.

It was not often that the two played great games together during the 2022-2023 campaign. Saturday’s matchup marked the 13th time in their 52 games combined that they both surpassed 20 points, tying the 55 combined points for the fifth most they’ve scored combined this season.

“I think we’re both at the stage where we’re going to get the best look from the opposing team and get the most attention,” VanVleet said after the game, noting how they both had to endure the physicality of the Timberwolves and had to find mismatches.

“We have to keep working on those things, and again, just try to make the right results for this team. And I thought we did a good job tonight.”

VanVleet was able to start the night for the Raptors, scoring 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting in the first quarter.

Despite the hot start, the Raptors’ defense was unable to hold off the Timberwolves, who were back-to-back on the second night and without their all-star in Anthony Edwards after being sidelined just before the tip put. off with an ankle injury.

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Siakam ended up being the difference maker for the Raptors, as he was able to create some separation with a point in a game that head coach Nick Nurse called “low energy.”

The turning point seemed to come after a poster dunk by Naz Reid at 3:39 in the third quarter. The backup center eventually led the way for Timberwolves with 22 points off the bench on 8-of-10 shooting to go along with a nasty blow.

Siakam responded by scoring nine points to close out the third quarter, then another four points in the fourth, ultimately giving the Raptors a double-digit lead that would stretch to a whopping 19.

Nurse highlighted the “variety in what Siakam does”, through his ability to get to the basket, use his patented spin moves, create chances with his fadeaway, crash the offensive glass, and also take advantage of transition opportunities.

“That’s his prescription for a good night for me,” said the nurse.

To go along with the Raptors’ one-two punch, for the second game in a row, all five of Toronto’s starters were able to score in double digits,

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The team’s success was highlighted by a flurry of dunks from OG Anunoby and Scottie Barnes.

Gary Trent Jr. also sparked off the bench, as the sixth man came in with 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting, while being instrumental in the defense with five steals.

Another standout in the second unit was Chris Boucher.

After scoring 12 points in the first quarter on 6-for-6 shooting, Jakob Poeltl ran into trouble. However, the Raptors were able to lean on the 6-foot-9 Boucher, who put up a solid fight against the 7-foot-1 Rudy Gobert.

“It was a big battle. It showed me a side of my game that I have,” said Boucher.

Saturday marked the third consecutive win for the Raptors in this home stretch at Scotiabank Arena after recently beating the Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder. It improved them to 35-36, good enough to hold onto the ninth seed in the Eastern Conference, while marking the fourth time this season they were able to put together a three-game streak.

“I think we needed this so we can find some joy in the team,” said Boucher. “It helps us figure out what we can do.”

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VanVleet and Siakam resigned as the Raptors clinched their third straight win. (Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports)

With the Raptors ending their season, the goal is to be among the top six teams in the East. But with 11 games left and the Raptors trailing that ranking by five games, that seems like a monumental task. Instead, their eyes seem focused on holding their position for a chance in the play-in tournament.

If the Raptors secure the seventh or eighth seed, they only need to win one game in the play-in to enter the playoffs and begin a seven-game series. As the ninth or tenth seed, they should win two games, but if they lost their first game in that scenario, they would be eliminated do-or-die.

They will look to continue their momentum on the road Sunday night as they take on the best team in the East in the Milwaukee Bucks on the second night of a back-to-back.

“We’ve got work to do, but I like where we’ve been,” said VanVleet. “We’ve been pretty focused, you know, over the last few weeks and we need to keep that up.”



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