Raptors coach Nick Nurse discusses the team's effort level, the root of their issues defensively and more.
NICK NURSE: OK. What do you got, Doug?
- We talked before the meeting [INAUDIBLE] physical list--
NICK NURSE: Yup.
- --and their transition, and how do you think your team's handling each of those?
NICK NURSE: Well, the transition wasn't very good at the start, right? I think in the first 27 points, I think we gave up 17 in transition. A physicality and offensive rebounding, those are kind of our two keys going into the game was defensive rebounding and transition. And we got to the half, and the transition number was super high, and they had 14 offensive rebounds.
So we didn't take care of our priorities and dug ourselves too big a hole to get out of, and just didn't play with enough physicality. I think we were getting bumped a lot, and we knew that was going to be the case, and we didn't react to it very well.
- You had a lot of large physical guys to match up with, so can you scheme around that or how do you--
NICK NURSE: Well, we're going to have to play better, right, if you're-- you're going to have to figure out a way to scheme against it, right? And that's two nights in a row where the big has really, really dominated us. And again, we just-- again, came out a bunch of games where we took care of some really good bigs, right, really well.
Even with smaller lineups, I guess, per se, right? And I don't know. Again, it just comes down to you got to use a couple of people on those guys, but those two people got to be physical or two or three or whoever's involved, and it got to do a better job of blocking out.
- When Brooks gets off to a good start like that on both ends of the floor, with the way he plays and the talking, is that something that can get under a team's skin a little bit?
NICK NURSE: Well, I don't know a little bit. I just thought he did a really, really good job all night both sides, right? He just had an incredible game, right? He was super, super physical. Again, I'm going to side with my guy. I thought he got away with a ton, right, early, late, in the middle. Like-- that's-- you adjust. You know that they weren't going to call any of that stuff.
So we talk about trying to do other things, and we just didn't enough. And to answer Doug's question a little bit, too, so instead of trying to bang and use a physicality aspect, you use the length and skill. And we just didn't get enough of those possessions against that. We got to use our length and height to negate some of that, and we just didn't do it.
- Getting back to that point. Scottie, I think, missed his first five or six shots. But then his last seven all came in the restricted area or in the paint. And how can you get him to get that assertive full game, as opposed to the last three?
NICK NURSE: Yeah, I mean, he had a tendency to do that last year a lot, too, right? Took a while to get it into the game and certainly talk about, like, that's his plays that we need him to make at the start to finish.
Like, more consistently in the game, not when we get down 10 or 12, or when the fourth quarter starts or whatever. Those are his moves, and they're really good moves. They're good power moves, and he gets in there and sometimes he misses and he gets them back, et cetera. Just got to-- he's just got to be more aggressive at the start.
- What'd you think of the minutes you got from Dowtin?
NICK NURSE: Really good. I thought he played really good. He's a good, solid defender, pretty good organizer, can get a bucket here and there. I thought he was part of that run, that he sparked some of that with his defense. Yeah. Did a good job.
- With Fred out, what went into the decision to send Dalano to the 905?
NICK NURSE: Well, I'm just trying to get Dalano a little back in rhythm and conditioned from the injury a little bit, and I thought it'd be good for him. I also thought we had some smaller guards coming in, that Dalton's pretty good defender, that he could go out there and go to work on them. So we just thought it'd be a-- both those things made sense for us. Yeah.
- We talked pre-game and just now about the similarities between you and Memphis with the way that you guys play offense or whatever.
NICK NURSE: Yeah.
- Does that give you optimism that you guys are on to something, and it's just a matter of getting the guys to execute?
NICK NURSE: Well, yeah. I don't know if that play tonight gives me much optimism at all. That's pretty unacceptable, with the effort we gave. I thought the loose ball count was all in their favor. I'm not talking about 50/50 balls, either. I'm talking about ones where we had huge advantages to get, and we just-- that's our identity, who we are, right? When we're tipping balls away, we're the first ones to the floor to get them. And we weren't close to that tonight, right? So looking at anything else other than us just getting back to some instinctual effort plays is my first concern.
- Is a big part of that the several touchdown passes they had, too, in transition? It seemed like--
NICK NURSE: Well, it was about as bad as it could get, Tim. I mean, there was times when we'd make a free throw and they throw ahead and dunk it down at the other end. Plays that can happen-- they can happen maybe once every seven years. Like, seriously. And so, got we got to get focused and connected and get serious about playing harder.
- Your team last year-- not that there weren't other pillars, but it was sort of built on that nightly reliable energy and effort. And that obviously hasn't been the case this year. I mean, do you have any obvious reasons for that?
NICK NURSE: No. I think you're right, first of all. We've been lacking that certainly lately, right? Certainly lately, we've been lacking playing to our identity, right? And I don't know, just a little bit disjointed right now and we got to hang in there and get to work and keep showing them what we're talking about. And hopefully they'll go out there and execute it. They should get tired of this pretty soon and start playing.
- That DNP, is that an injury or is that just choice?
NICK NURSE: Nope. Just choice. Coach's decision.
- When it comes to the defense, you guys were really good at limiting frequency at the rim last year. But those numbers have come or gone in the opposite direction this season. You guys rotated towards the ball last year, towards the free throw line. Are those rotations coming a bit slower, is there less resistance to the point of contact?
NICK NURSE: Yeah. Our biggest issue defensively, is we're playing transition defense far too frequent, right? They're coming out at us off a missed shot or a turnover way too much. You just can't constantly be in that mode, right?
Our lack of scoring and our lack of shooting has put our defense in a huge bind just early on, and that you can handle. But you can't handle it over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again, to be constantly on the run defensively. You got to get your defense set up. So that's probably my biggest concern right now.
- Coach, what happened with Barnes in the third quarter when he left the floor?
NICK NURSE: I'm not 100% sure, but it looked like he got hit in the face or something. Because I thought he was holding his face when he exited. But I did not really get an update, because he was back fairly quickly. Must have just took a shot and recovered.
- Poked in the left eye.
NICK NURSE: Pardon me? Poked in the left eye, there you go. Thanks, [INAUDIBLE].
- What kind of levers do you have or measures do you have? You talked about how many times defensively you've seen some of the plays tonight. So where in your bag of trips can you go to kind of gain the focus here?
NICK NURSE: Yeah. I mean, it needs to get back to some foundational stuff. The bag of tricks got us back in the game, kind of, right? We started doing some things that got them out of rhythm and got a bunch of stops in a row. But the foundational stuff of getting your defense set up, guarding the ball better, right, contesting shots, blocking out better, et cetera have to get better. And we're just going to have to get to work on them.
- Does it go to playing time or rotation shifts, or?
NICK NURSE: Well, it's going to have to be some of that. But it's also just going to be just good old fashioned hard work, I think.