News and notes from the NBA FULL-COURT PRESS
Guards leading revitalized Raptors bench ... Ewing Theory in effect with Wizards and Wall? ... Three-point shooting coming around ... Kawhi to Siakam over the middle
figures he finally has his second unit figured out after quite a bit of experimenting.
“That’s a good crew,” Toronto’s head coach said
Fred VanVleet, Delon after Wright, Norman Powell, OG Anunoby Greg
had their way with Brooklyn’s reserves in Friday night’s 122-105 win.
VanVleet had helped stabilize things early with some stellar outside shooting, Wright had three steals, giving the Nets fits all evening, Powell slashed his way to the rim consistently, Anunoby scored easily and Monroe was strong down low.
“We’re trying to get those guys to put in a little extra work, pre- and post- practice, and pre-game. On game day we’re really trying to get them together a little bit because it looks like that’s the second unit now,” Nurse said.
“It’s taken us 45 games to figure it out but it looks like if we’re healthy that’s the group. It should be a good group. It really should.”
Things will change in a month or so when Jonas Valanciunas is ready to take Monroe’s place, but, for now, the Raptors will run with this unit barring any ailments creeping up with the starters.
VanVleet and Wright, along with now starter Pascal Siakam, were the key forces in last year’s dominant bench mob and now that VanVleet is seeing more time with Wright again with Kyle Lowry
back in action, it’s easy to see the chemistry the two former college stars have with each other. They helped Toronto build its lead from 17 points to an insurmountable 24 in the seven minutes spanning the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth.
“It’s two point guards. Both do different things, but super high IQ and when he’s aggressive and locked in, getting downhill, when I’m spacing the floor, me and Kyle, him and Kyle, it’s that two point guard look,” VanVleet explained of his play alongside Wright. Nurse even briefly had all three point guards on the court at the same time.
“When it’s clicking, we read each other very well. It’s natural, it’s easy, it’s nothing forced, we just naturally fit each others’ games,” VanVleet said.
Nurse singled out Wright’s play in the final 9.5 minutes of the second as a key point of the game. Wright went +16 in that span as Toronto erased Brooklyn’s five-point advantage and never looked back.
The bench combined for 60 points, two short of the season high.
THE EWING EFFECT?
is one of the most gifted natural talents in the entire NBA, but sometimes teams go on weird runs after losing their top player for the season. That idea, called The Ewing
Patrick Theory, was named for Ewing,
the long-time New York Knicks centrepiece, because it was thought by some that the team played better when he was in foul trouble or out due to injury.
Washington went 20-21 without Wall last season, 23-18 with him, but has been better without him this time around.
Wall was shut down after Boxing Day, had surgery earlier this month and will be gone until at least training camp.
The Wizards host the Raptors on Sunday afternoon full
Bradley of confidence, with Beal
rampaging and the supporting cast finding its
Tomas Satoransky footing.
has capably manned the point and the Wizards arrive 5-3 without Wall.
“They’re a good team,” VanVleet said
“I know there’s been ups and downs, they have struggled a little bit, injuries and guys out and different stuff going on. But going into the season they were supposed to have a better team so the talent is there.”
FINDING THE RANGE
Toronto had shot .427 on three-pointers over the previous three games, making at least 10 treys in each, after struggling mightily to hit shots in recent weeks. The team then hit 10 on 38.5% shooting through three quarters against Brooklyn before cooling off.
What’s changed? “I just think time,” Nurse said. “We think we stay with it, you keep giving guys confidence, you look at the shots and you evaluate ‘em pretty closely and they look like they’re pretty good. You tell those guys to make ‘em and keep taking ‘em, let’s make sure we’re taking the right ones and most of ‘em are the right ones, these are the ones we want to take in the film sessions, and we’re gonna step into ‘em and start making ‘em. And we finally started doing that,” he said.
AROUND THE RIM
Siakam commented after the game that Lowry’s return has prompted the pace to be picked up. “He just gets everyone going,” Siakam said. “He gets the transition going … always knows where everybody is at.” At one point Leonard found Siakam over the middle on a long bomb, prompting NFL comparisons … Toronto had 32 assists on 48 field goals against the Nets and the team is 8-0 when notching 30 or more assists.
Raps forward OG Anunoby (right) was part of a unit that had their way with Brooklyn’s reserves in Friday’s win.