The 2020-21 season has been an exceptionally frustrating one for the Toronto Raptors, as they play the season out in Tampa due to travel restrictions in Canada. The Raptors got off to a dreadful start before rebounding to claw back into the middle of the pack in the East playoff race, but have recently fallen apart once again with a nine-game losing streak that has dropped them to 11th in the East, 2.5 games out of the play-in.
For whatever reason, the ever-consistent Raptors have not been able to find the baseline that has been present within the organization in recent years. They’ve had COVID-19 related absences and injuries, which contributed to the start of this losing streak, but they’ve had a mostly complete roster in the past few games and still can’t get right. The frustrations with the losing streak have apparently boiled over at times. Nick Nurse was fined $50,000 for a tirade directed at the officials after a loss to Utah, in which he threw his mask into the stands.
On Sunday, in a 116-105 loss to the Cavaliers, Pascal Siakam was benched for the entire fourth quarter as Nurse rode with a different lineup (that won the quarter 30-25, but wasn’t able to reel Cleveland in). After the game, Siakam apparently directed some “choice words” at Nurse going to the locker room and was slapped with his own $50,000 fine from the team for it, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
The Raptors pushed back on there having been a fine issued already, noting the situation is under discussion and nothing has been decided.
According to Raptors PR chief Jennifer Quinn, any issue between Nick Nurse and Pascal Siakam is "being discussed" and "no decisions have been made" concerning any discipline yet.
— Doug Smith: Raptors (@SmithRaps) March 23, 2021
Should he be fined, it would not be the first discipline handed out to Siakam for his behavior after a game, as he was benched against the Knicks earlier in the season for leaving the court early in a loss to the Sixers. There are a number of factors for why this season is difficult for the Raptors, chief among them playing in a different city without the comforts of home, but for a franchise that hasn’t experienced losing in recent years, players like Siakam who have grown in a winning environment are dealing with the frustrations of consistent losing for the first time in their careers. This week’s trade deadline may very well bring some roster shakeups, but they have things to fix internally as well if they’re to turn this season back around.