It's been a little while since we've seen Pascal Siakam put the Raptors on his back and carry them to victory, but we got that on Sunday night.
Siakam was perfect from the floor in the fourth period, scoring eight straight points in the clutch as Toronto moved to 3-1 on their road trip with a gutsy win over the Sacramento Kings.
And while Siakam's scoring in the crunch time was a welcome sight for Raptors' fans, it was his playmaking that should be getting the headlines.
MORE: How far can Siakam carry the Raptors?
Siakam had five assists on Sunday, but two big ones came in the fourth showing his growth as a playmaker and go-to-guy.
With under five minutes to play in the game and the score tied at 94, Siakam posted up and banged with Richaun Holmes looking to be aggressive and make a play. His aggressiveness drew the attention of Bogdan Bogdanovic who left the Eastern Conference Player of the Week Norman Powell to help get the ball out of Siakam's hands.
Siakam reads the play, picks up his dribble and delivers an on-time bullet to Powell - who by the way is shooting 43% on catch and shoot threes so far this season. Powell strokes the triple giving the Raptors a much need bucket and a three-point cushion.
Powell was having a great fourth quarter too - he himself didn't miss any shots in the frame matching Siakam's efficiency. But this play doesn't materialize if A) Siakam isn't aggressive and B) he doesn't throw a picture-perfect pass.
On the very next possession, we saw Siakam go back to his playmaking bag - this time in the roll and pick game. OG Anunoby sets the screen for Siakam who now has the Kings' best perimeter defender Harrison Barnes defending him.
As Siakam uses the screen, Nemanja Bjelica hops out to cut the All-Star off, but Siakam is able to slither by him.
The half-second detour allows Barnes to get back in position to slow Siakam down, but instead of forcing the issue, Siakam flicks the rock over to OG who has nothing but daylight in front of him - and it's hammer time.
"It's been a stretch now here where, you know, you go way back to that winning streak, how many times he drove in there and kicked it out for guys to nail shots late, too?" Raptors head coach Nick Nurse told reporters after Sunday's win via Blake Murphy of the Athletic. "So I was really pleased back then that he was making the right reads.
"He's made a bunch of baskets and he's made a few kick-outs, and mostly he's made the right play, and that's really all we're after.
"You're either scoring it or you're drawing bodies and you find the guy that's open. That's why we're trying to get him all these reps."
Siakam has been making the right plays more times than not all season. When Siakam is aggressive, but also under control the Raptors are a completely different team offensively. Not coincidentally, the Raptors are 12-3 this season when Siakam finishes with at least five dimes.
But there are still a handful of times when Siakam gets out of control and he coughs up the rock far too carelessly.
Against good defences in the playoffs, the Raptors won't be able to get away with those types of mistakes.
The positive side to this, Siakam is capable and his ceiling is still a ways away.
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