Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, discusses the bench's play vs. the Blazers, Toronto running out of time to make their move in the East and his approach to the trade deadline.
- What did you see last night that made you-- like, obviously, you won the game, and that was the whole point, right, was, like, trying to turn this tide a little bit, but what have you seen that makes it feel like you can sustain this and keep this going?
PASCAL SIAKAM: I think what we need to do is keep that focus and intensity, be the aggressors. Like, I feel like a lot of the times, we get hit first, and then we react, but we've gotta be the aggressors. We've gotta come in with the focus and mentality to, like, just attack. No matter what we're doing on defense on offense, like, just be aggressive, and I thought we did a decent job of just being together, getting stops. The second unit came through. They played well that second quarter. So, yeah, I just think we need to stay tied together, and just bring that focus and intensity.
- You mentioned aggressiveness quite a few times there. Is that something that's been sort of obviously lacking for you?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Well, I just think that, again, like, we have good moments, and then we just have moments where we're not as aggressive, like, on both sides. So I just think that, as long as we keep that mentality, and just that focus, I think we can be decent, you know, but we've gotta do it for longer periods of time.
- At the end of the game, if you're at, like, 35 versus 39 minutes, do you feel that at the end of the game, or is it only, like, sort of cumulative that--
PASCAL SIAKAM: Well, I don't want to say that I don't feel it, but, yeah, I mean--
- Like, how much of a difference does it make, I guess?
PASCAL SIAKAM: I don't know yet, right? When I do it, then I guess we'll figure it out. But, yeah, I think I feel it every day. So it's good, though. I don't mind it. And, again, my focus on is on doing everything that I can for us to win. And I'm a soldier, so whatever is out there, like, I'm ready to do it.
- I guess my point is, like, you got more bench minutes than you had the previous games, and so do you feel like you have more energy to make plays in the fourth quarter?
- I don't think it matters. Again, I don't think it matters. But, at the same time, like, I love the fact that they played well and they were out there on the floor, and we need more of that, so I won't complain about that, that's for sure.
- We hear rhythm, rhythm, rhythm all the time, especially yesterday in that first quarter. You and Christian had some great plays with just those extra passes. Do you feel like there's a little bit more of a rhythm?
PASCAL SIAKAM: I don't know, man. Like, look at our record, right? Like, again, we're just trying to chip away. And I always try to say, like, let's focus on one game, man. Like, in the grand scheme of things, obviously, we know we're not where we're supposed to be, but we can't get ahead of ourselves, and we've just gotta focus on every single game, treat it like it was our last, and just focus on that, and try to continue, like I said, staying together, continue to build that chemistry that you're talking about, and just making plays for each other, like, be there for each other, and, like, at the end of the day, like, we're gonna have to do it. Like, there's nobody else. Nobody feels sorry for us. Nobody feels like-- again, we've gotta do it, and I feel like I'm tired of talking about it. Like, we've just gotta go out there and do it, right? And hopefully we build a little momentum and get some wins in a row, but--
- The lack of calls aside for Christian, what are you seeing from him lately, because it seems like he's taken another jump.
PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah, no, I like Christian. I like what he's doing, and what I always try to tell him is, like, just focus on the little things. Like, you have the gift, and that came from above, you know, and you've just gotta continue to just work and focus on the little things that we talk about, our pick-and-roll defense, like, making sure that you stay straight up. And one of the things, I mean, obviously, he's a shot blocker, and he wants to block shots all the time, but I just always tell him, like, just you being there is, like, a problem, you know, and it doesn't show up in the stat sheet, but, like, when somebody somes in there, they've gotta think about it, so you've gotta just know that. Like, use that size and not try to make a play every single time, because that's gonna come. But I love his energy. You know, he finally jumped, and finally got a dunk, and I always tell him that he's not jumping. He just thinks, because he's tall, that he can just score without jumping, but, yeah, he jumped last night, so that was good to see.
- Pascal, those possessions towards the end, where you were matched up with Dame defensively, and you were able to get stops on him, when you talk about being a top-five player in the league, how much are you relishing those opportunities as well, in addition to what you're doing offensively?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah, no, I think I'm a complete player. Like, that's what I strive for, for sure. Like, on defense, I want to rebound. I want to pass. I want to, like, score. Like, I want to do it all. And that's one part of my game that I think that, again, I don't know if-- you know, like, obviously, when you're the person that has to score the baskets, we don't really look at your defense that much, but I do think that my defense is there. Like, I can definitely guard a lot of people out there, and I think, for me, the most important thing is just like, man, we've just gotta do these things, like, to be able to win, and if I have to do it, like, I'll do it. I don't mind.
- When you're matched up specifically against a guy like Dame, what are the keys you find?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Just try to do your best. Like, those guys, I mean, like, this the NBA, and those guys are, like-- like, he's one of the top percentage in the NBA, so you've just gotta try to do your best, and, sometimes, you come up with a stop, and, sometimes, he scores. So that's just what it is. Like, I don't think, like, those type of guys, there's nothing really you can do to really stop them. You can be lucky sometimes and stop them. That's fine, and I'll take that, but, like, those guys are so talented that you just try to do your best.
- Is that the biggest thing, just, like, not paying attention to the result of the shot?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah, just because I think, like, people make tough shots. Like, that's what the league is about, and there are so many players that can do that. So focus on the game plan, whatever the team wanted us to do. You know, just try to do that to the best of your ability, and sometimes they miss, sometimes they don't.
- You have talked before about how you don't pay attention to things that aren't happening outside of this team. How do you-- the trade deadline is in a month. People are gonna be chatting about all sorts of things. How do you keep that stuff out?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Just do it. I don't know. Literally, it doesn't concern me. Like, I come in every single day, man, like, I have my routine, you know, one foot in front of the other, no matter if I had 2 points or I had 30, like, it doesn't change anything. Like, I'm doing the same things every day, and, like, what is that gonna get me, to worry about, like, you know, what's gonna happen at the trade deadline. Like, that's not my job, like, you know? I feel like I do a lot, so just let the other people do their jobs, and I come in and do mine, and at the end of the day, like, I could care less. You know, unless my phone starts ringing, and it's like, you're going somewhere, like, that's the only thing, right? But other than that, like, I'm here, I'm coming to work every day, and I let the people that do their job do their job.
- What's it like for you when, like, you know, when Norm was traded? What's it like to have guys who you're friends with and who you've built a relationship with?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah, it hurts. Again, you build relationships with these people, and you consider them family, and they get to move, and it's hurtful. But at the same time, like, season seven for me, like, I get it. It's been happening. And it's hard, but you get over it, because, at the end of day, like, we're still doing our jobs, and no matter where these people go, like, they still get to wake up and play basketball for a living, which is incredible and amazing, and that's really what it is. Like, you know, we stay in touch, and, again, like I said, it's a business, and it's just part of it.
- Pascal, with the core that you guys have right now, and I'm sure you'll be asked this more over the next month, with the deadline, but do you guys feel like you have it in the room right now to be able to turn things around?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah, I do believe so. I think, like I said, I always say that, there's a couple of games that you look for the one, you know? Like, it didn't happen, and that's the NBA, and I think just understanding how hard it is to win, and we've gotta be able to do every single night, like I was saying earlier, like, longer stretches of good basketball, and togetherness, and all those things. That's what it's gonna take to win. But I do think that we have the talent.
- I appreciate that it's not just one thing, but have you seen more signs from the second unit?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah, no, I like I said, I love the second quarter. Like, they came in, you know, like, they did everything, and, you know, there was energy, you know, rebounding, like, defending. Like, they did it all. And, you know, they've been working hard. Like, they've been working hard. If we're being honest, like, I mean, that's what everyone talks about. So they really work hard, and I'm happy that they played the way they did, and I hope that they keep that same mentality, and intensity, and swag, and confidence, and just go out there and play basketball.
- I appreciate your job is hard enough right now, but is input in front office something you either want or you have right now? Is that something you care about?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Bro, like I said, I don't know why you keep asking me this things. Like, this is not my job, man. Like, this is not my job. Like, I don't know what you want me to tell you. Like, yeah, it's not my job.