TORONTO — Pascal Siakam could do no wrong in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
Three nights later, the script was flipped.
After starring with 32 points on 14-of-17 shooting in the Toronto Raptors’ series-opening 118-109 win Thursday, Siakam went just 5-of-18 for 12 points as the Golden State Warriors grabbed home-court advantage with a 109-104 victory in Sunday’s Game 2.
Siakam said the difference was his own play rather than any defensive adjustments made by the visitors.
“I missed a lot of layups and floaters and stuff like that that I usually make,” Siakam said inside a sombre Raptors locker-room. “For the most part, it was that.
“I just couldn’t get in a rhythm offensively.”
The forward from Cameroon was the story of Game 1 as he introduced himself to U.S. and international audiences with Toronto star Kawhi Leonard not his usual super-human self.
Siakam hit a number of acrobatic shots — often with Draymond Green, a stout defender, guarding him — in Game 1, while also going 2-for-3 from three-point range.
The 25-year-old had a highlight-reel alley-oop dunk in Sunday’s first quarter off a slick feed from Fred VanVleet to send Scotiabank Arena into an ear-splitting frenzy, but came up empty on a number of open looks as the night wore on. The transition game, which Siakam thrived in on Thursday, was a Warriors strength in Game 2.
“That’s basketball,” said Siakam, who was 0-for-3 from beyond the arc. “You make shots one day and miss them the next day.”
The same could be said for much of Toronto’s roster, which will now travel to Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., for the next two as the best-of-seven series shifts to the West Coast.
The Raptors shot just 37.2 per cent from the floor, including 28.9 per cent from three, in Game 2 after going 50.6 and 39.4, respectively, in Game 1.
“We still got a lot of shots,” Toronto guard Kyle Lowry said. “We still got to where we wanted to get. We missed more shots than we made the other night.”
None more so than in the first six minutes of the third quarter when Golden State went on an eye-popping 18-0 run to flip a 59-54 halftime deficit into a 72-59 lead.
During that stretch, the Raptors were 0-for-7 shooting and careless with the ball as the two-time defending champions made their move.
“I don’t think we came out with the pace we were supposed to come out with, knowing that they are definitely a third-quarter team,” Siakam said. “Maybe just a sense of urgency, doing a better job, a better pace.”
Lowry, who fouled out with under four minutes left in the fourth quarter, added Golden State’s run came down to fundamental flaws in the Raptors’ approach coming out of the break.
“Transition, missing shots and not getting back on defence,” said Lowry, whose team led by as many as 12 points early. “Not being able to set up our half-court defence kind of hurt us.”
What also hurts is despite that run, Toronto still had an opportunity to go up 2-0 in the series late with Klay Thompson, who had 25 points on the night, sidelined with a hamstring injury and Kevin Durant out with a calf problem that’s sidelined him since Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinal.
“They’re the defending champs for a reason,” Lowry said. “They came out aggressive. They came out assertive. We made a big run. They made a big run.
“We gave ourselves a chance to get better and be better, so we’ve got a lot of room to grow.”
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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press