Rust_Cohle wrote:Middleton for sure, Siakim hasn't been the same since his injury to his calf.
I don't think it's the calf that changed Siakam...I think it was game 5 or 6 where the Sixers adjusted and matched Embiid with Siakam, they dared him to shoot open 3s and midrange shots. Siakam was afraid to go at Embiid.
Siakam was definitely affected by Embiid and lost his effectiveness on drives and finishing around the rim. Embiid is a phenomenal rim protector and deceptively quick at recovering on drives. However, the right calf contusion certainly played a big part in why Pascal dropped off bigtime in games 4-7. Seemingly minor injuries to ultra-athletic guys are much more limiting than injuries to non-athletic plodders like Gasol or Lowry. Specifically, his calf injury slows his explosive first step, counter-moves around the bucket and, most importantly, his ability to hit the 3. Why the 3? Siakam's shot was rebuilt from the ground up with a unique inward rotation of his right foot and calf flexion. This helps to properly align his hips and upper body to the rim with his right-handed shot. He then puts a lot of force on the right calf when he jumps to shoot the 3.
See 44 seconds into the youtube clip if you want to better understand his unique shooting mechanics and why the right calf contusion has messed it up. It's a lot more nuanced than why his dribble-drives and explosiveness at the rim have fallen off.
Nearly everyone matter-of-factly states that Embiid shut him down and that he was in his head. The reality is likely closer to Pascal getting an injury that took his difference-making athleticism away from him, limiting both his close-range effectiveness and shooting ability, and then knowing that, he's resorted to deferring to others. If the time comes (or has come) when he's fully healthy and yet doesn't display the confidence to attack the defence in classic Pascal fashion then I'd say that there's a concerning mental component.
It remains to be seen if Pascal can regain full health this series because that's the difference between a really reliable 2nd option on the Raptors versus a guy who will play D and do dribble handoffs on offence without the ability to take the driver's seat when Kawhi needs a breather on or off the court. Fingers crossed...