I know a lot of Raptors fans or the media are busy discussing who should be the X-Factor for the Toronto Raptors and Orlando Magic comes playoffs time. Personally, I strongly feel that the X-Factor for Toronto is Coach Nick Nurse.
Mike Budenholzer was my choice to coach the Toronto Raptors prior to this season but he went to Milwaukee Bucks and look how quickly he made the Bucks team even more better. Anyhow, that’s history now, and Coach Nurse is our coach for the Raptors. I have to admit, during the regular season, Nick Nurse did impress me with a number of innovative strategies such as “Load Management” to keep Kawhi Leonard healthy. Have a different starting lineup for every game, depending on the opponents we were playing against. I like that, coz it makes it less predictable for the defenders not knowing who is starting. Nurse utilize the entire roster and gave them minutes to play among each other, became involved and getting used to playing with each other on the court and run different set plays. By doing that, every player didn’t feel left out and keep the starters fresh during the entire course of the 82 game season.
The best part? Former Coach Dwane Casey didn’t believe Norman Powell will be helpful to the team and bench him almost the entire season of last year. Meanwhile, Nurse let Powell got back into his groove, built up his confidence and Powell will be a KEY player comes in the playoffs. In fact, I could see Powell steal a game or two for our team. By letting Powell became an integral part of the team is 1 good reason of what Coach Nick Nurse had done so far in his 1st year as Raptors coach and every reason why Dwane Casey got fired.
However, regular season is a different breed. As we know, whether it’s franchise history wins, making the playoffs, finishing top playoff seed, it just a token entry into the NBA playoffs. Playoffs are a different game, different vibe, refs aren’t going to give you those calls in regular season during the playoffs. Players just need to step up and coach in-game adjustment will be a key element comes playoffs.
Right now, I am still not convince of Nick Nurse comes playoffs. So, I want to see what Nurse is capable or not capable of doing comes playoffs.
Here are some of the elements that I would like to see Nick Nurse do during this NBA playoffs in order for Toronto to go deep into the playoffs.
- During the playoff series, if Nurse feels there should be a change in the starting lineup, don’t be afraid to make the change, just do it!
- When the game is on the line, yes, Kawhi (our best player) should get most of the touches, but also consider drawing set plays for guys like Pascal Siakam or Danny Green to take those shots. Make it less predictable. Last few years, Dwane Casey kept drawing ISO plays to DeRozan or Lowry who failed miserably to make those shots. If it didn’t work, change something else, make the opponents 2nd guess on our teams’s game plan. Siakam has the ability to handle the rock, drive to the hoop, the physicality to drive or take that 18-foot jumper. Danny Green, one of the most reliable 3pt shooter on the team with a quick release, let him take a shot and win the game for the team. Don’t just rely solely on Kawahi to take those ISO play. Be creative!
- If a bench player is playing well and a starter isn’t, don’t be afraid to bench the starter and ride as long as you can with that bench player who is red hot. Make it a “team game” instead of the name on the back of the jersey.
- Ball movement. I can’t stress this enough. Raptors is a successful team when they pass the ball. When everyone is standing around and waiting for a Kyle or Kawhi to take a shot, it slows down everything.
- Dictate the pace of the game. Raptors is a good transitional running team, once a Raptors get a rebound, they should push the ball up front and get easy transition basket.
- Raptors should challenge the Magic shooters to settle for jump shots. Coz Magic will burn out and if they don’t have a good shooting night, they don’t offer much.
- After a time out, I would like to see a good set play drawn by Nick Nurse.
So, if you want to ask me who is the X-Factor for the Toronto Raptors? My answer is Coach Nick Nurse. This is your team now Nurse, time to be creative, bring up your intensity and really make things happen. Don’t be afraid to ask someone other than Kawhi to take those game changing shots.
In all fairness, Normal Powell will be my pick as the player’s X-Factor.
Time to make things happen! Let’s Go Raptors!
PS – It’s mind boggling to me that the Raptors didn’t resign big man Greg Monroe, I think he brings size, serviceable backup centre. Coz we have to pray that Marc Gasol is healthy during this stretch run as we don’t really have a proven backup centre that has height and size. I would pretty much rather than have Greg Monroe than Eric Moreland. I know Monroe is a bit slow and not as athletic, but he knows our team during this season and get along with everyone, that would have been better. Anyhow, we hope Marc Gasol stays healthy and effective during this playoff run.