7. The L.A. road trip
Your All-Star point guard breaking his thumb is never good. Your All-Star point guard breaking his thumb with four-fifths of a West Coast road trip remaining is also never good. But your All-Star point guard breaking his thumb with four-fifths of a West Coast road trip remaining and your next opponent is LeBron James and the Lakers? Well, that’s really never good.
Yet that’s the situation the Raptors found themselves in, heading into Staples Center a night removed from Kyle Lowry’s thumb injury. Fortunately, his understudy was ready to shine. VanVleet played a heroic 39 minutes, dropping 23 points and adding 10 assists. But, as they did so many times throughout the course of the season, the Raptors leaned on Siakam to get it done. Logging 42 minutes, Siakam did a little bit of everything, scoring 24 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and blocking three shots.
As luck would have it, the primetime cameras of TNT would show up the following night, when the Raptors fell to the Clippers, but everybody who stayed up for this tilt either knew, or found out something new about the Toronto Raptors. When this team gets its back pushed up against the wall, the claws come out.