Pascal Siakam answered the call.
It wasn't always pretty for the Toronto Raptors' star forward. Frankly, it was probably pull-your-hair-out frustrating at times as he jacked up errant 3-pointers one after another. But when the Raptors needed him in a crucial Game 4 on Saturday night against the Boston Celtics, the 26-year-old responded, leading the Raptors to a 100-93 victory in Game 4.
It was one of the biggest games from Siakam's young career, scoring 23 points to stave off the daunting prospect of a 3-1 hole of which only 12 of 254 teams in NBA history have ever come back from.
His 3-pointers were ugly. He started the game taking seven straight 3s, making just one of them. It wasn't until the 3:52 mark of the second quarter that he attempted his first two-point field goal of the game, a made driving layup he followed up with another two-point bucket on the subsequent possession. But aside from the 3s, he looked dominant, attacking the rim and showing the kind of touch the Raptors' have been longing for throughout the playoffs.
"I’m way more than just a person who can score or whatever," Siakam said. "I have a lot of ways that I can impact the game. I think sometimes you can get caught up in makes and misses. It’s the league. It’s basketball. Sometimes you’re gonna make shots and sometimes you’re not gonna make shots."
Inside the arc, he was virtually unstoppable. He went 8-for-10 from two-point range, attacking Boston's Jaylen Brown late in the game when the Celtics' forward got into foul trouble.
Outside of the arc, however, it was a much different story. Siakam went 2-for-13 from 3-point range, setting a new career-high for 3-pointers in a game. It created a very strange looking shot chart.
Then there was Kyle Lowry, the Raptors 34-year-old lead guard who followed up an all-time performance in Game 3 with another heroic game on Saturday. He started the evening scoring 11 of the team's first 14 points including six straight points for the Raptors all from the free-throw line.
"When anyone comes out that aggressive it usually gives us a boost but he obviously is our team leader and our veteran and when he does it, it automatically gets everybody a burst of energy, focus and confidence," Nurse said.
Lowry played almost the entire game once again, following up a 46-minute Game 3 with another 43-minute performance in Game 4. He finished the night with a 22-point, 11-rebound double-double, 3 assists shy of a triple-double.
"I did check with him, a couple of times I was joking, I asked him if he needed a sub with a smile, he’d chew me out, I don’t need one," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. "I was kind of kidding."
Coming into Game 4, Nurse said he was going to need a big performance from someone off the Raptors' bench. It was going to be a "wild card" in the series, he said, unsure of who exactly it might be. On Saturday, Serge Ibaka answered the call, scoring 18 points with four made 3-pointers.
Like the previous two games, Game 4 was largely decided behind the arc. The Raptors shot 17-for-44 (38.6%) from deep while the Celtics went 7-for-35 (20%).
"The analytics guys will tell you this stuff balances out over time," Nurse said. "When some of them are going in, I think it seems like the looks are a lot better."
In the first two games of the series, the Celtics were red hot from behind the arc, shooting 32-for-77 (42%) from deep, while the Raptors struggled, shooting 21-for-80 (26%). Since then, the pendulum has swung the other, with the Raptors outscoring the Celtics with 13 more made 3s in Games 3 and 4.
"You need to make some 3s and you need to stop them from making a bunch, and that’s really been the story of the games," Nurse said. "I don’t know if it is as simple as that or not, but it kind of feels like it right now."
The Raptors will look to take a 3-2 series lead on Monday at 6:30 p.m. ET.