Pascal Siakam needs to step up for the Pacers

After his first two games against Milwaukee in the playoffs, Pascal Siakam has been relatively quiet. He needs to be better if the Pacers are going to win.
Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks - Game Two
Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks - Game Two / Elsa/GettyImages

The Indiana Pacers traded for Pascal Siakam on January 17 for two reasons. The first reason was to take pressure off Tyrese Haliburton as he recovered from injury. More importantly, the second reason was to give the Pacers some much-needed veteran experience and lift for the playoffs. Already an NBA Champion and leader of a playoff team on the Raptors, the hope was that Siakam's addition would be the final piece to Indiana's developing puzzle.

Sure enough, that is exactly what happened in Games 1 and 2 of the first round against the Milwaukee Bucks, Siakam showed exactly why Indiana traded for him, as he put up a combined 73 points while looking like the best player on the floor at every turn.

While Siakam didn't continue this level of play for the rest of the series, as he 'only' averaged 15.6 points on 46.6% shooting and 14.3% from deep for the remaining four games, it was just enough to get Indiana past the depleted Bucks in six games.

Unfortunately, Siakam's play style seems to have caught up to him in the second round against the New York Knicks. Despite being decent enough in Game 1, logging 19 points on 50% shooting in a four-point loss, Siakam did not follow it up with similar production.

Game 2 was perhaps the worst game Siakam played in a Pacers uniform up to this point, as he only scored 14 points on horrendous splits of 38% from the field, 1/3 from deep, and, crucially, 0/2 from the free throw line, with those two misses coming at the worst possible time, with Indiana having the chance to cut a five-point New York lead to three with four minutes left. Unfortunately, Siakam's missed free throws immediately led to a Precious Achiuwa dunk to increase the lead to seven as New York rode that momentum to a 130-121 victory.

Free throws have been a weak point for the majority of Siakam's career but they have reached a boiling point in the playoffs. In eight playoff games, Siakam is shooting a miserable 43.8% from the line, which is worse than Shaquille O'Neal, a notoriously bad free throw shooter. Part of this probably has to do with the mental aspect, as Siakam looked terrified when he stepped to the line in Game 2, and shot with no confidence, with his form suffering as a result.

This has led some Pacers fans to speculate whether Siakam truly deserves a max contract in the offseason, With Indiana being able to offer him the most money out of any other team due to attaining his bird rights, they will most likely offer him a max contract but would prefer for him to improve his free throw shooting as well. Perhaps a free throw clause can be added to his contract with a raise in pay coming if he hits a certain percentage of his shots from the line.


However, that is for the future. For now, Indiana needs Pascal Siakam to get his act together and play like the dominant force he was in the regular season and to start the Milwaukee series. With OG Anunoby out for Game 3 and most likely Game 4, a couple of huge Siakam games can put Indiana right back in the series, with the hope being that they return to Madison Square Garden for Game 5, preferably with the series tied 2-2.