Raptors’ Nick Nurse said he pulled Pascal Siakam late in NBA Finals Game 5 because he didn’t like defensive effort
For all of the drama in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, it may have gone largely unnoticed that Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam did not play in the final nine minutes of the fourth quarter. Nick Nurse made that call.
Pascal Siakam had been mostly inefficient when he was on the floor, shooting 6 of 15 from the field but 0 of 4 beyond the arc. However, it was not his inefficiency that led to his late benching.
On Thursday, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse revealed that he pulled Siakam because he was upset with his defensive intensity:
Interesting that Nick Nurse said Pascal Siakam was benched for the final nine minutes in Game 5 due to defensive effort more than anything. Every time Siakam has been challenged — see after Game 2, Milwaukee — he's responded.
— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) June 13, 2019
Arthur refers to Toronto’s blowout loss against the Bucks in Game 2, when Pascal Siakam scored just eight points and fouled out in just over 25 minutes of action. He responded by scoring 25 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in a critical double-overtime victory that swung the balance of the series in the Raptors’ favor.
Indeed, Siakam has been very prone to inconsistency. He dominated Game 1 against the Warriors, getting out in transition and creating separation at the rim while scoring 32 points on 14 of 17 shooting.
In Game 2, however, Siakam scored just 12 points and shot 5 of 18 from the field. But once again, the Cameroon native responded.
Siakam scored 18 points to go along with nine boards and six assists while registering a +22 in plus-minus in Game 3, then chipped in 19 points in Game 4.
Although there is some comfort in knowing that a potential Game 7 would be played at home, the Raptors and Nick Nurse likely have a tremendous sense of urgency on Thursday night. If they hope to prevent the series from returning to Toronto, Siakam will need to be on top of his game on both sides of the ball.