It’s finally official, Pascal Siakam has been traded to the Indiana Pacers. Throughout all the speculation over the last 24 hours and now a finalized trade, there is still Raptors basketball to be played tonight!
The Miami Heat are in town and are coming off of a three game win streak. Unlike last time they faced the Raptors, the Heat are much healthier this time around.
Toronto hosted Miami back on Decmeber 6th, in a matchup that saw the Heat win despite missing starters Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo. Miami has been one of the league’s most injured teams this season, yet still sits comfortably in a playoff spot in the East.
Tonight, the only starter out of the Heat lineup is rookie sensation Jaime Jaquez Jr., who joined the starting lineup full-time shortly after that last game facing the Raptors and has greatly improved his rookie of the year candidacy.
https://t.co/wWGNmWnCY9’s updated rookie ladder:— NBACentral (@TheDunkCentral) January 17, 2024
1. Victor Wembanyama
2. Chet Holmgren
3. Jaime Jaquez Jr.
4. Brandon Miller
5. Dereck Lively II
6. Brandin Podziemski
7. Keyonte George
8. Jordan Hawkins
9. Scoot Henderson
10. Ausar Thompson
While Miami will miss Jaquez Jr. tonight, Heat Culture always has the next man up ready for the job. Caleb Martin was the next man up last time these teams faced off and he dropped 24 points and four threes in that matchup.
It’s been next man up for the Raptors recently as well, with centre Jakob Poeltl remaining out of the lineup due to an injured ankle. Thaddeus Young has started in his place, while Jontay Porter got the nod last game against the Celtics. Porter appears to start at centre again tonight against the undersized Bam Adebayo.
In a recent turn of events, it’ll be next man up at the power forward spot for the Raptors tonight as well. The Pascal Siakam trade has been completed, and the two-time All-NBA forward is now a member of the Indiana Pacers.
Pascal Siakam is joining Tyrese Haliburton with the Pacers pic.twitter.com/JirRSYzHYq— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 17, 2024
Guard Dennis Schroder will likely draw back into the starting lineup in Siakam’s place, while bench forwards Thaddeus Young, Chris Boucher and Jalen McDaniels will likely see increased playing time for added size.
The aforementioned loss to the Celtics marked Toronto’s fourth in a row. Though I’m sure the players and coaching staff will give it their all to end the losing streak tonight, moving on from both Siakam and Anunoby seems to indicate the beginning of a rebuild in Toronto, with potentially more players on the way out.
Here’s how to watch the first game in the post-Pascal Siakam era:
How to Watch:
Sportsnet at 7:30 p.m. ET
Toronto: Immanuel Quickley, Dennis Schroder, Scottie Barnes, RJ Barrett, Jontay Porter
Miami: Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler, Nikola Jovic, Bam Adebayo
Toronto: Christian Koloko (out - respiratory), Otto Porter Jr. (out - knee), Jakob Poeltl (out - ankle), Gradey Dick (questionable - thumb), Gary Trent Jr. (questionable - flu-like symptoms), Pascal Siakam (out - trade)
Miami: Jaime Jaquez Jr. (out - groin), Kevin Love (out - knee), Dru Smith (out - knee)
Kyle Lowry Returns
It’s always a great time when the GROAT is back in town. Speaking of trade rumours, it’s been speculated that Miami could move on from Lowry at the trade deadline to use his ~$30m cap hit to improve the roster.
At 37 years old and on the last year of his contract, we could be seeing Kyle Lowry take the court at Scotiabank Arena for the last time. Even if he does stay with the Heat, the next time these teams face off are the last two games of the regular season, both in Miami.
To alleviate some of the sadness that may come with that realization, don’t forget that the GROAT has confirmed on multiple occasions that no matter what happens, Kyle Lowry will retire as a Toronto Raptor.
With Jakob Poeltl sidelined, the Raptors are lacking a true traditional centre. Jontay Porter played that role against Boston and despite getting the starting nod, he only played 15 minutes.
In that matchup, Dennis Schroder played 33 minutes off the bench as Toronto played without a traditional centre for much of the game. Even with Kristaps Porzingis being 7’2”, Darko Rajakovic was comfortable with the lengthy Scottie Barnes or Siakam guarding the European big.
As Bam Adebayo stands at 6’9”, it’s possible Rajakovic explores a smaller lineup for much of tonight’s matchup as well. However, now without Pascal Siakam, it’s yet to be seen whether coach Rajakovic will trust Young, Boucher and McDaniels to fill in the hole left by Siakam’s departure.
OG Anunoby was still a Raptor last time they faced the Heat; Toronto has since acquired two former Knicks, who just faced Miami in the second round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs.
Immanuel Quickley missed half of that series, meanwhile RJ Barrett scored 24+ points in four of six games, despite dropping the series. For whatever reason, the Maple Mamba seems to have Jimmy Butler’s number when it counts. We’ll see if the Canadian can continue his scoring ways over Miami as he faces them for the first time as a Raptor tonight.