Toronto Raptors

Pascal Siakam first-career triple-double not enough as Raptors fall to the Trail Blazers

The Toronto Raptors led by as many as 17 points, but the Portland Trail Blazers battled back and steal another win from Toronto, 112-111. CJ McCollum led the way for the Blazers with a game-high 30 points and nailed the game-winning basket with 9.6 seconds left to give his team the comeback win.

Pascal Siakam continued his strong play recording his first triple-double, but missed two chances near the basket to secure a road win for the Raps.

For more on Monday's game, check out the biggest takeaways from another tough Toronto loss.

1. Setting the tone early

The Raptors jumped out the gate to an early lead right from the start showing very little effects from their game the night before in Golden State.

The game started with a rejection by OG Anunoby and a Lowry floater on the other end and that fueled the Raps to a 24-11 run to start the game.

Toronto looked locked in on the defensive end to start, forcing the Blazers into four first-quarter turnovers.

The one thing the Raptors have done this season is start games well, it's the finishing as we know, that has been the problem. Coming into the game Toronto had a plus-7.4 net rating in the first quarter this season. Which is right in line with where they've been the past two seasons (plus-7.2 in 2019, plus-7.5 last season). It's a small thing but one that they can certainly build off of as they try to claw back in the standings.

2. Second night of a back-to-back

Back-to-backs have been kind to the Raptors in recent years. They hadn't lost both games of a back-to-back since Dec. 2017. Last season the team went 8-3 on the second half of a back-to-back. It's been a testament to the team's preparation and mental toughness. This year however nothing seems to be going right as Toronto failed to secure a win in their first back-to-back of the year.

3, Birthday Boucher

Whether you think he should be starting or not, Chris Boucher's strong play to start the season has been contagious. His energy and effort jump off the screen and the numbers back it up.

Coming into Monday's game, with Boucher on the floor, Toronto had a net rating of plus-7.6. With him off the floor, it drops to minus-7.4. It's a small sample size but Boucher has proven that he belongs in the rotation for the foreseeable future.

On his 28th birthday, the Montreal native went off for 20 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Boucher is now up to 26 total blocks on the season good for top three in the league.

Happy birthday, Slim Duck. Unfortunately, he doesn't get to celebrate a win.

4. Pascal Siakam

I wasn't ready to say he was fully back after his strong outing against the Phoenix Suns, but I'm prepared to say it now. Pascal Siakam is back.

Siakam's numbers are there, he finished the game with his first career triple-double of 22 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, but it's his energy and effort that solidifies it for me.

The confidence to attack smaller defenders in the post. The awareness to leak out and make himself available for an easy early look. All the things that made Pascal an All-Star. He's finally getting back to what made him special, hopefully, for Raptors' fans, it's here to stay.

By the way, Siakam's triple-double was the first Raptor non-Kyle Lowry triple-double since Jose Calderon did it on Dec. 16, 2012, vs. the Houston Rockets.

5. Fred VanVleet's defence

VanVleet's defence on Stephen Curry on Sunday night reminded many that he can lock in with the best of them. He followed it up on the second night of a back-to-back guarding a well-rested Damian Lillard and made things tough for him all night long. Lillard finished the game with 23 points while shooting 50.0 percent from the field, but VanVleet kept him busy and made him work all night.

VanVleet won't get Defensive Player of the Year recognition, but he does deserve All-Defence love. What he does on a night to night basis is right up there with the Marcus Smarts, Eric Bledsoes and Patrick Beverleys of the world. And unlike those guys, he carries a heavy scoring load too. He's been special on both ends this season.

There wasn't much he could do with McCollum in the final seconds.

6. Opponent three-point shooting

We know how important the three-ball is to the Raptors on offence, but guarding it defensively is equally as important.

Coming into Monday's game in their wins this season, opposing teams have shot just 25.7 percent from deep against the Raptors. In Toronto's losses, teams have been shooting 40.0 percent from deep.

Portland struggled from deep on Monday shooting just 33.3 percent from three. Toronto was consistent in their efforts of contesting the long ball on Monday, a good sign on the second night of a back-to-back. A small victory in a loss.

7. Points in the paint

Coming into Monday's game, the Raptors were ranked 25th in the league in points in the point averaging 42.4. While they outscored the Blazers on Monday night in the paint, they only put up 38 points inside on a Portland team that doesn't feature too many rim protectors and were also without Jusuf Nurkic for the largest part of the game.

The threes were falling on Monday as Toronto shot 40.4 percent from deep, but in games where the opposing team doesn't have many rim protectors, it would be nice to see the Raps go inside a bit more.

8. Raptors rotation

The Raptors rotations have been a roller coaster all season long, with Nick Nurse going on a game-by-game basis as to who he'll play and when he'll play them. On Monday, we saw Nurse go nine deep getting solid play from all but Alex Len who was a non-factor.

A more consistent rotation might yield more consistent results, but the season is young and there's still much to learn about this version of the Raptors.

9. Up next...

The Raptors head back "home" to Tampa for a five-game homestand beginning with back-to-back game against a talented young Charlotte Hornets squad.

The first game is Thursday at 7:30 p.m. on TSN.

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