Finding the right mix tops coach Nick Nurse’s list for the Raptors


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Unlike a year ago, Nick Nurse had a pretty good idea of ​​what he was going to get from his Raptors as they opened the season Wednesday night.

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But that didn’t mean there weren’t a few questions that still needed to be answered.

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« At this time of year, it’s all about figuring out exactly who goes together and what goes together, » Nurse said as his Raptors hosted the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“I think it’s a bit of an experiment. I’m still throwing 20 games (when) we’ll probably tinker with some things. Some of them will be good, others will teach us a lot. There will be learning lessons, that’s for sure. I think it’s important for this team. Which bands will look (good) together? This is going to take a little time to figure out.

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The nurse wasted no time taking care of this DIY.

A minute into the second quarter, he had already replaced five of his reserves, mixing and matching lineups while looking for something he liked.

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Nurse said even changing his starting five crossed his mind at some point before the start of the season.

« Yeah, pretty serious, I guess, » he said of the consideration. “We think about it here and there. I think the telltale sign will probably be more how quickly I replace. We may be moving parts a little earlier than usual. I could see that was a factor.

And that’s exactly how it went against the visiting Cavs.


The Raptors front office handled some paperwork ahead of the season opener, exercising the third-year option on Scottie Barnes and the four-year team options on Precious Achiuwa and Malachi Flynn.

All three players are now signed for the 2023-24 season.

Apart from perhaps Flynn, extensions have been given.

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Flynn is entering his third year with the team and while he has yet to find a permanent spot in the rotation, he has had enough moments and shown enough development to make this option a go.


The Raptors entered this one a little shorthanded playing without the services of Otto Porter Jr. (hamstring), Chris Boucher (hamstring) and Khem Birch (knee).

The Cavs arrived with a decision to make on who would start with the quartet of Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley.

It was one of Isaac Okoro or Caris LeVert and JB Bickerstaff and his coaching staff who opted for LeVert’s experience and two-way play against the youngster and defensive stalwart of ‘Okoro.


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Here’s a bet line Nurse would rather Vegas bettors were right.

Notoriously poor at setting wins when it comes to Toronto, at least one bettor has Nurse as a real long-shot to be one of the first coaches fired this season.

Only Michael Malone at Denver, Monty Williams at Phoenix, Erik Spoelstra at Miami, Taylor Jenkins at Memphis, Gregg Popovich at San Antonio and, of course, Steve Kerr at Golden State are less likely to be fired first this season according to the punters. at Bet Online.

Brooklyn’s Steve Nash, arguably the greatest basketball player to ever come out of this country, is the overwhelming favorite to be fired first at 5-1.

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OG Anunoby makes the list of first players to request a trade, also via BetOnline, 12-1 behind a number of others including Kevin Durant (5-2 and the favorite), Russell Westbrook (3-1) and made interesting (wink, wink) Canada’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in Oklahoma City.

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Gilgeous-Alexander is likely eyeing another year of tanking at OKC with franchise-changing Victor Wembanyama up for grabs in the draft.


Due to preseason injury issues, the Cavaliers never really saw newcomer Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland in the backcourt together in real-game situations.

It wasn’t ideal, but Cleveland head coach JB Bickerstaff didn’t expect a problem anyway.

« It’s not a change for us to be honest, » he said. “As a group, we pride ourselves on creating the kind of environment where everyone can be the best version of themselves. It’s no different when you add a guy like Donovan to the group. We don’t go out and change based on individuals. We try to make sure that all 15 or 17, if you include both meanings, feel the same way about being in Cleveland. We try to foster an experience where people want to stay and where people want to come.

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« So it’s no different when you add Donovan, » Bickerstaff added. “Give Donovan and Darius the upfront credit for the type of human beings they are because they want it to work. There is no whim, there is no ego grabbing for who is the better dog. All they want is to compete together at a high level and win as much as possible. Because of their personalities, we didn’t have to do much different to make it work.

Bickerstaff and his team also didn’t watch much of their on-field chemistry in the first game of the season.
Garland had to be helped off just before the end of the first half and didn’t return after getting a finger in the left eye just in front of the Raptors bench.

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