The Raptors struggled to defeat the lowly Suns in a game in which they were missing key players aplenty; OG Anunoby for personal reasons, Kawhi Leonard for rest, and Jonas Valanciunas for that lingering thumb injury.
The game ended with a score of 111-109 in favour of the Raptors, who were saved by a Siakam layup at the buzzer.
Here are my takeaways from that game:
1. Nurse's Confidence in Siakam Continues to Grow
Raptors head coach Nick Nurse has a whole lot of confidence in third-year big man Pascal Siakam, and its not at all unfounded. With the last shot of the game, tied at 109-109, Nurse made sure that Siakam would be the one to take the last shot.
Nurse gave the ball to Siakam in an iso situation, and simply let him go to work. Pascal delivered, banking in the game-winning layup over the outstretched fingers of 2018's number-1 pick, DeAndre Ayton.
This came in a game that also involved multiple-time All-Star, Kyle Lowry, and established veteran shooting guard Danny Green. The fact that Siakam was given the game-winning opportunity speaks volumes as to Nurse's confidence in Pascal as a player.
2. CJ Miles Could Be Back
Don't blame CJ Miles for his season-long struggles. He worked hard this summer. Blame the "GoDaddy Curse". It affected Norm last season. He's rebounded nicely. It affected JV the season prior. He's rebounded nicely as well.
It's possible that CJ is rebounding from the Curse before its effects are supposed to have worn off. After not hitting more than one three in any one game so far this season, CJ drained and efficient three deep-balls, totalling 13 points in 17 minutes of play.
For CJ's sake, let's hope that he's rebounded early, and can be the value add that the Raptors front office was hoping for when they signed him in the 2017 offseason.
3. Ayton and Booker are Good. Nobody Else Is
DeAndre Ayton and Devin Booker combined for 45 points against the Raptors on Friday. The rest of the team (8 guys) scraped together 64 on the night.
In addition to the scoring put up by the young duo, who Booker proclaimed to be the next Kobe and Shaq after Ayton was drafted first overall, the two put up big numbers in other areas too. Ayton grabbed 17 boards and Booker dished out 8 assists on top of their big scoring nights.
The Raptors see the Grizzlies at home tomorrow, and the Suns are visiting the Timberwolves in Minnesota on Sunday.