Facing elimination, the Toronto Raptors have a key player nursing an injury and their top scorer stuck in a severe rut.
Forward Serge Ibaka wore a protective walking boot Tuesday after spraining his left ankle in Monday night’s ugly 111-89 defeat to Boston that left the Raptors one loss away from leaving the NBA bubble. He’s not sure if he’ll be good to go Wednesday for Game 6 versus the Celtics.
And Pascal Siakam, the team’s top scorer before the COVID-19 shutdown, has been MIA since the NBA’s restart in Florida. Ibaka, who’s been a key player off the bench averaging 15.1 points and 8.2 rebounds this post-season, rolled his ankle when he fell awkwardly on the defensive end in the second half Monday.
“When it happened [Monday] night, I felt like I could still play. And then today, this morning it changed a little bit,” Ibaka said. “So let’s see tomorrow when I wake up.”
The Raptors packed for Walt Disney World prepared to be there until the Finals next month. Now, their season is on the line Wednesday, trailing Boston 3-2 in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal.
But the defending NBA champions need everyone playing well against a Celtics side that is 6-3 versus Toronto this season.
Siakam, who stepped up nicely after superstar Kawhi Leonard bolted during the off-season, has been a shadow of himself since arriving at Disney World. While his offence has been glaringly off, his defense at least had been keeping opponents honest — until Game 5, when Brad Wanamaker lumbered past Siakam like he was rooted to the floor.
The 26-year-old, who went without shooting a ball for a couple of months during the COVID-19 lockdown, has seen his scoring drop in the playoffs from an average of 22.9 points per game to 18.
His field-goal percentage is 41.1, down from 45.3, and his three-point shooting is a woeful 21.3 per cent, down from 35.9. Nurse pointed out that against Boston, the Raptors tend to sag more quickly when shots aren’t going in.
The Raptors have lost seven times this season by 15 or more points, and Boston is responsible for four of those losses.