Rap­tors start makes new coach ‘too ex­cited’

The London Free Press - - SPORTS -

TORONTO — Nick Nurse hasn’t been sleep­ing well. And that’s a good thing.

Back home af­ter a per­fect and his­toric 4-0 west­ern road swing, and boast­ing the best record in the NBA at 11-1, the new Toronto Rap­tors coach has been too pumped to sleep.

“It’s ex­cit­ing,” Nurse said af­ter Fri­day’s prac­tice. “I wish I was sleep­ing bet­ter to be hon­est with you. I’ve al­ways been like that. Af­ter a loss, I go home and pass out and don’t give it an­other thought. When I’m win­ning, I’m too ex­cited.

“I’m try­ing to even-keel it a lit­tle bit more, like I’m telling the team to.”

The trip marked the first time in fran­chise his­tory the Rap­tors have gone un­de­feated out west.

It also put Pas­cal Si­akam and Serge Ibaka squarely onto the

scout­ing re­ports of op­pos­ing teams that al­ready had their hands full try­ing to find ways to stop Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard.

“That’s the real beauty of it, be­cause you know they’re game­plan­ning for Kyle and Kawhi, and I’m not sure peo­ple game-planned for Serge much when he was play­ing (power for­ward), but now you can see they’re plan­ning for him rolling and play­ing in­side.

“The ad­just­ments, you make them as you see teams do­ing other things. Now there is Pas­cal. It’s tough to game-plan for a whole bunch of peo­ple, but that’s what we’re try­ing to get to ... they have to do it or else those guys will con­tinue to hurt them, but it will open up more things for Kyle and Kawhi again.”

Si­akam is sec­ond in the league in two-point per­cent­age at 71.3 per cent be­hind Utah’s Rudy Gobert. Ibaka, who’s play­ing bet­ter than he has at any time in Toronto, is

fourth (66.4).

Ibaka has been thriv­ing since Nurse moved the big man back to cen­tre. He had a ca­reer-best 34-point game last week against the L.A. Lak­ers and his shot at­tempts near the rim are up sig­nif­i­cantly, al­most dou­ble the 29.6 per cent he shot from in­side last sea­son.

Lowry, mean­while, leads the league in as­sists with 11.3 per game and Leonard is av­er­ag­ing 26 points a night with ad­mit­tedly much of the Rap­tors of­fence still to learn, mak­ing for a multi-headed night­mare for op­pos­ing teams.

The Rap­tors are home for the next three games. The New York Knicks ar­rive Sat­ur­day with a 4-8 record (11th in the East). The New Or­leans Pel­i­cans are in town on Mon­day. And for­mer Rap­tors coach Dwane Casey, who was fired af­ter the team failed to get past the Cleve­land Cava­liers in last sea­son’s play­offs, brings his Detroit Pis­tons to Toronto on Wed­nes­day.

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