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Pascal Siakam believes Raptors will be ‘not fun’ for teams to play in playoffs

Raptors Playoffs

Raptors Playoffs
(Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)

Pascal Siakam believes Raptors will be ‘not fun’ for teams to play in playoffs

With five days left in the 2022-23 regular season, the Toronto Raptors are tied for the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference play-in race. After beginning 23-30, the Raptors are playing their best basketball of the season, having won five of their last six, seven of their last 10 and 16 of their last 25.

At worst, Toronto will be competing for a top-8 seed in next week’s play-in games. The only question remains on where they’ll be in the standings. If they’re the No. 9 or 10 seed heading into next week, the best they could earn is a No. 8 seed, while finishing in the top-8 gives them a chance to leapfrog to No. 7 — should they beat the likely No. 7-seeded Miami Heat in the play-in race.

According to Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, should Toronto squeak into the playoffs, they will not be “a fun” squad to play.

“We’ve just been trying to figure out our rhythm and continue to fight,” Siakam said to ESPN’s Malika Andrews. “Now that we’re in a position where we can get in there, that’s just our goal — get in the playoffs, and again, I always say that once we get into the playoffs we can make some noise.

“I don’t think it would be fun for a lot of teams to play us.”

Siakam mentioned Jakob Poeltl, who the Raptors acquired from the San Antonio Spurs at the trade deadline in a two-player, three-pick swap.

“Adding Jakob [Poeltl] to the mix [gives us] that rim protection that we’ve always wanted,” Siakam said.

Poeltl has been invaluable to Toronto’s rim protection, as it sports a top-10 offense since his debut compared to the 17th-best beforehand. He’s also had impacts as a screener and roller, helping free up the Raptors’ primary-and-secondary creators — such as Fred VanVleet and Siakam — better as well as open up their shooters because of the rolling gravity he attracts.

Three of Toronto’s final four games will be against the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks, the teams that Toronto would face if they advance past the play-in. They are a combined 0-4 against those teams this season — three of those contests coming before Poeltl’s arrival — with neither team outscoring Toronto by more than eight points.

I would still put my money on both Boston and Milwaukee to advance past Toronto in six games or less, but there’s no doubt that this currently-constructed Raptors squad is better suited to cause some trouble in the playoffs.

Much of the Raptors’ core has playoff experience, they’re well-coached and they’re a perpetually feisty, lengthy, physical bunch — but the proof will be in the pudding regarding their playoff hopes within the next three or so weeks.

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