What Nick Nurse noticed after watching the Cavaliers victory film

Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse discusses his takeaways after watching the opening night win over the Cavaliers film, gives injury updates to a few Raptors and looks forward to their next game against the Nets.

Video transcript

NURSE NICK: Yeah, I mean, I think there was… I thought we played really hard. I thought we were working very hard. There were a lot of little areas that we put a lot of effort into, which is nice, kind of usually pays dividends at some point in the game, isn’t it? There were some truly outstanding defensive performances. There were also some that weren’t so exceptional, right?

Some of them weren’t very strong at all, were they? There were a few quick and early breakdowns and things like that, so a pretty good mix to show them what it should look like. And we can’t have that’s not acceptable, can we? So it was a pretty good mix of that and– go ahead.

[INAUDIBLE].

NURSE NICK: I was going to say, well, the other end is decent. I thought there was good ball movement. Again, it’s a lot of DIY. You know, the spacing is close. It’s not quite right on some – it’s just continuing to tweak some of this stuff, but we made a lot of really good plays, and a lot of good plays, and a lot of good assists, I thought, in the game .

Fred made a comment I think on media day like, finally, you got him to play pick and roll. And I think he repeated it last night. What do he and Koloko have, or what does Koloko allow him to do that you haven’t had in the past?

NURSE NICK: Well, I just think it’s a consistency of he’s a guy they’re probably going to keep with a center, right? So often when we don’t have one we don’t know exactly where the center is going to end up so it’s a little clunky sometimes trying to figure that out as you go up the floor . It just gives him a bit more pace that most point guards are used to, right?

The same guy knows he’s coming in the drag, or the side screen and the roll, or whatever, because the attack is on. Or if you’re late, and it breaks down, you know, he’s probably going out and you’re going to. So there’s a bit of rhythm, I think, which helps.

It is a good filter. I know point guards really appreciate that, right? And he’s going to arrive as a roller finisher. I don’t think he’s there yet, but he’s showing signs of it. And I think he’s going to come, gain strength, feel and be able to put pressure on the front of the rim.

One of the things he keeps saying with Christian is that he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes for a rookie. Is it even more surprising as a great rookie? As I feel like with the young bigs it usually takes a bit longer than maybe some of the other positions.

NURSE NICK: Yeah, I think that’s what people often say, right? And I just think it’s probably more on the court with reps and stuff. He is extremely brilliant, which is to say he understands what we are doing. Like I said, it’s got a pretty big engine, so it can put in the effort, right? Again, playing hard and trying hard always goes a long way to a team’s success, and he was able to do that.

Nick, Christian had two vertical contests, one on Garland, then one on Mitchell, where it looked like Mitchell was coming up for the dunk [INAUDIBLE]. What does that say about your IQ to stay strong, stay upright, and not get carried away with excitement?

NURSE NICK: Yeah, he ended up…he was well trained, right? He understands, first, that it’s a shooting block and when he can’t get there, and he can still be a problem going straight and moving them around him. They move it around every once in a while, but again, it’s better than the straight line and the unchallenged layup.

It’s up to you to block the shot, go vertical or take a charge, or the choices you have to make. And he seems to know, and as a shot blocker you’re usually down to two, right? You don’t see a lot of shot blockers taking a ton of charges, so he did a pretty good job of reading that as well.

According to him, Precious and Pascal, maybe the thing to do is to start playing basketball later in life, right? Like all three of them, I think, started playing at, like…

End of adolescence.

–15, 16, 17. And he had it all figured out, as all three have pretty high IQs for someone who didn’t start playing until late now.

NURSE NICK: Yeah, they do. They are all three very good players, and they especially know what they are doing on the defensive side. Again, I think all three of them have talent, a natural ability to be good defenders, and then the mixed IQ certainly helps. But I think back to your question, there are many things that apply to life.

This time last year you lost Game 1 to the Wizards. Now, what’s the importance of getting the first win, but also putting it on a team, like Brooklyn?

NURSE NICK: Well, I don’t know. I think this one is probably done and dusted. I think the game a year ago probably didn’t have a big impact on last night’s game, although I think we felt a lot calmer last night than one year ago. But there was so much uncertainty last year, wasn’t there?

Again, I think that’s really important. Like, listen, you’re going to play a game in this league. You get a win. That’s what you have to do, and then we’ll do what we did today. We had a great learning session. We really learned a lot from last night’s game, and now we have to try to take it down tomorrow and prepare for Brooklyn.

Nick, you were mentioning…

NURSE NICK: Go ahead, one more.

With Pascal and Scottie, there were times when they maybe got into the rhythm a little too much. [INAUDIBLE].

NURSE NICK: OG, yeah, OG.

Yeah, sorry, but more specifically, when Christian was there in the dunk spot, did you maybe see stuff, where he can learn to be in a better angle for the pass and stuff like that?

NURSE NICK: There were a few. Again, I think we could show a bit of both last night, that the game was a bit earlier on the outside, then the game was a bit higher on the inside, right? You gotta throw it to the guys with the reach and length it has, yeah.

Anyone back today?

NURSE NICK: Anyone back today? Cam was back today, yes.

And is Chris getting close?

NURSE NICK: He is getting closer. I don’t know when we’re going to release him. He’s in pretty good shape. He should be–

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