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Toronto Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic on Pacers' Pascal Siakam: 'He's a great fit for Indiana'

Rajakovic coached Siakam for parts of this season

INDIANAPOLIS — Darko Rajakovic became the head coach of the Toronto Raptors this season, and he is only three-fourths of the way through his first campaign. But he is already well intertwined with the Indiana Pacers.

The first-year coach has already faced off against the blue and gold three times, and the Raptors have two victories in the matchup. Their size and transition play have been tough for the blue and gold.

Both franchises are linked this season because of a blockbuster trade, too. Pascal Siakam was dealt from Toronto to Indiana in mid-January, and the two-time All-Star forward has already played in 22 games for the Pacers, including two against the Raptors.

Indiana and Toronto faced off North of the border in mid-February, and Siakam received a warm reception from the fans of his former team. He went on to have 23 points that night as his new unit squeaked out a win.

More recently, the two franchises battled in Indianapolis, and the players that were traded for Siakam were back in Gainbridge Fieldhouse for the first time. Bruce Brown and Jordan Nwora reconnected with teammates before the two clubs faced off.

Rajakovic also spoke to reporters before the two clubs hit the court, and he had a glowing review of Siakam from their short time together. "He's been playing in this league for nine years and everybody knows what he brings to the table offensively, defensively, and his strengths," the Raptors head coach said of the now-Pacers forward. "Pascal is a player that I really admire and I respect a lot."

Siakam played 39 games for the rookie head coach, and he averaged 22.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game with Toronto this season. He led the Raptors to a win over the Pacers way back in November.

Toronto beat Indiana again late last month when they returned to Indianapolis with Siakam as their foe. The ex-Raptors and two-time All-NBA forward had 27 points, nine rebounds, and six assists, but his team wasn't at the needed level to grab a victory.

Siakam was good enough to win, though. Rajakovic knows how threatening he can be on the court but still struggled to stop him. "He's a very well-rounded player and he's a great fit for Indiana," the Raptors head coach said. He cited transition play, post up effectiveness, and mid-range accuracy as places where Siakam shines.

So far, Siakam has appeared in 22 games for the blue and gold. He is averaging 20.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game for his new team. The 29-year old has looked more comfortable of late, and the Pacers will hope that it soon leads to consistent results.

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  • Pascal Siakam shows increased comfort level with Indiana Pacers in February win over New Orleans Pelicans. CLICK HERE.
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