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Raptors' Siakam, VanVleet, More out vs. Pistons Because of Health Protocols

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 2, 2021

Toronto Raptors' Pascal Siakam warms up in a special Black History Month shirt prior to an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Mike Carlson/Associated Press

The Toronto Raptors announced they won't have Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Malachi Flynn and Pat McCaw for Wednesday's game against the Detroit Pistons because of the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols. 

The teams were supposed to play Tuesday but had to move the matchup back by one day. Toronto's encounter with the Chicago Bulls, originally scheduled for last Sunday, was postponed as well.

In addition to the players who will be missing, head coach Nick Nurse remains out as well.

To say Toronto will be short-handed is an understatement. Siakam and VanVleet are averaging 40.2 points, 11.9 rebounds and 11.4 assists just by themselves. Anunoby is 39th in the league in ESPN's defensive real plus-minus (plus-1.65).

Siakam was absent for the Raptors' 122-111 win over the Houston Rockets last Friday, halting the momentum he had built over the last month.

While Siakam's scoring average from February (20.7 points) was only marginally better compared to January (19.8), his three-point shooting improved from 20.4 percent to 36.5 percent. He was also averaging one more assist (5.3) per game, helping to facilitate the offense.

Not coincidentally, the Raptors entered the month of February four games under .500 (8-12) and ended back at .500 (17-17). B/R's Mo Dakhil listed the Raptors at No. 11 in his most recent power rankings.

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The All-Star break is on the horizon, which will allow Toronto's players to possibly fulfill the terms of the NBA's protocols to become eligible to return. After Wednesday, the Raptors have one more game (Thursday away to the Boston Celtics) on their first-half schedule. Then, they'll be off until March 11, when they host the Atlanta Hawks.

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