It feels like an eternity ago that the Raptors played against the Miami Heat and Pascal Siakam sat out the fourth quarter for reasons unknown. Fast forward to less-than-feeling-like-an-eternity-ago — to when Toronto played against the Houston Rockets sans Siakam and almost their entire coaching staff — and one can’t help but ask themselves some questions.
Let’s dig in to some of those questions and take the Temperature a little differently this week.
The Usual Suspects, Kyle, Fred and Norm
There is a specific level of joy that has begun to bubble up while writing this weekly temperature check, and that joy is entirely indebted to the fact that the Raptors are starting to see consistent, top-flight production from their top-flight players.
While Toronto only managed to go 1-1 in this COVID shortened week — spoiler alert, more on that later — it was Lowry, VanVleet and Powell who continued to keep the .500 Raptors afloat.
Kyle Lowry tonight:— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) February 27, 2021
Still elite at 34 pic.twitter.com/25easoBSE4
Norman Powell took on the scoring load as Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry's triple-double provide perfect support in tonight's Raptors win. pic.twitter.com/GkQJz35D8G— Raptors Nation (@RaptorsNationCP) February 27, 2021
Raptors fans were gifted a 27th birthday celebration for Fred that saw him put up 24 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds. That delightful present was followed up with Lowry’s 16th triple double — which is good for the franchise lead by a whopping 13 triple doubles — and another 30 burger for Norman Powell, who is absolutely scorching right now. Naturally, all of these celebrated highs would be cut short for some very low lows. What could those be?
Sergio Scariolo, Milestone
kyle making sure the game ball goes to scariolo for his first NBA win is the best and is also like the ninth time he's made sure the game ball has gone to the appropriate person.— Holly MacKenzie (@stackmack) February 27, 2021
A special shoutout goes to Sergio Scariolo who managed to secure his first NBA win as a head coach. Scariolo stepped in to coach the big squad with Nick Nurse and much of the coaching staff locked down under the NBA’s health and safety protocol and he didn’t disappoint.
NBA COVID Protocols, What Is Even Happening
Raptors Twitter was incensed during the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s loss to the Miami Heat, and for good reason. Siakam had played pretty poorly throughout the first three quarters of the game, but when the fourth quarter rolled around, Siakam remained stapled to the bench while Toronto tried and failed to rally without their versatile star. Why wasn’t Nurse playing Siakam? Had he done something egregiously wrong? Was he not giving it his all?
Is it a coincidence that Pascal, who hasn’t played since that game, is now out through at least Thursday’s game against the Celtics due to the league’s health and safety protocols? Likely yes, but the NBA’s handling of players getting pulled from games and being allowed to start games only for them to then be taken back out after being on the court for extended periods of time has been a mess. (We hestitate to bring up the Kevin Durant vs. the Raptors situation again, but it did happen.)
That mess has now found it’s way to the Raptors, who had to postpone their game against Chicago on Sunday and the Pistons on Tuesday. Siakam is now joined on the COVID protocol list by VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Malachi Flynn, Patrick McCaw, Nick Nurse and several other coaches heading into the tentatively re-scheduled Wednesday night game against the Pistons. The Raptors have enough players and coaches to compete — but this is not a good situation.
With an NBA All Star weekend that will see the best of the best all gathered under one, indoor, fan-filled roof, it’s only natural to wonder if the NBA is losing a grip on their already tumultuous season. On the bright side, at least there won’t be any Raptors there.