Atlantic Notes: Siakam, Sixers, Barrett, Thibs

Raptors forward Pascal Siakam continues to struggle through foul trouble, writes Dave Feschuk of The Toronto Star. As NBA referees across the league strive to limit calling fouls against “non-basketball” offensive flop plays, looks at the charity stripe in general are taking a significant dive. Siakam, however, continues to be whistled for fouls. The 2020 All-Star has averaged a career-worst 3.5 fouls per contest across 12 games this season and has already fouled out of two games.

“We can’t go through this (foul trouble) every night like this,”  Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said of Siakam. “It seems to me he’s just getting himself just a half-count late on some stuff.”

Siakam himself appears to be trying to be more sensitive to fouls called against him as the year progresses for the 10-13 Raptors. “If I’m going to have a foul I would rather it be an actual foul preventing someone from scoring or a foul I actually want to give,” Siakam noted. “Just staying away from the cheap ones and hopefully the gods will be on my side one of these days and I won’t foul out.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Determining a reasonable expectation for this strange Sixers season is proving difficult, opines Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The team has been felled by various injuries, extended COVID-19 absences, and of course the continuing Ben Simmons drama. Philadelphia is currently 12-11, good for the ninth seed in the East.
  • Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau sounded optimistic when addressing the recent shooting slump of RJ Barrett, per Ian Begley and Phillip Martinez of“I have a lot of confidence in [Barrett] being able to work his way out of it,” Thibodeau said after Saturday’s game. “When you throw in he’s been sick, and to me you get rhythm when you work. Last year, he got going when he started coming in every night to shoot. So there’s no notion that you (work on your shot in the gym at night) sometimes, you got to do it all the time. So get back in the gym, get back to grooving your shot. Shoot a lot of threes and you’ll start making more.” The 21-year-old Barrett is connecting on just 39.6% of his field goal attempts in his third NBA season.
  • Thibodeau has opted to give the slumping Knicks, losers of three straight, a day off to regroup, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. “[Who] we are as a team, how we built this team and this culture is just fighting defensively, the togetherness, just the effort, the hustle plays,” reflected New York forward Julius Randle of the club’s ethos. “And I think sometimes, we’re too lax. We might think the little details don’t matter sometimes or whatever it is, but we’ve just got to understand to get out of this we’ve got to do it together.” The Knicks are currently 11-12 on the young 2021/22 season.
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