Raptors start makes new coach ‘too excited’
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
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.