Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse was delighted to announce at practice on Thursday that OG Anunoby, Khem Birch and Precious Achiuwa are all nearing a return to the lineup. So once the trio are back, how will his rotations change?
- If you remember the bubble when we played the Celtics. And we had to play our small lineup, heavy minutes. Just how worn down OG and Pascal would be in the end of those games because they're playing-- they're playing the five man. They're constantly picking up the little guy, they're battling these massive bigs. And they just don't have legs when it comes to the actual fourth quarter. And that was both OG and Pascal. So we're seeing that again in this little bit of stretch where it's like, we've got no big so you got Pascal and Scottie doing all the heavy lifting down
Chris Boucher ain't boxing anybody out. We all know that. And you saw that if you want to point to the specific thing that where you can see Pascal had no legs, you can pull up the clip is that three that he bricked off front iron in overtime after Fred passed it to him, he didn't even get off the ground. I don't even think his hips were able to move. He was just locked in the ground. The guy was begging for the ball to get to the rim.
- So that's unfortunate for Pascal coming off what was a fantastic game. He puts KD on a poster, it seemed like he got whatever he wanted the first three quarters. And then it's like, let's just get over the finish line. We're playing against a depleted team in their own right. And it just felt like, ah, an extra couple of rebounds here and there. Especially-- it seemed like they played well.
We can point fingers, and we'll get more into that Chris Boucher missed assignment. VanVleet, Siakam had good games. But you would have liked to see them put the game away. You don't want to attribute the loss all on them. But it's tough 1-2 plays, 1-2 big rebounds here and there, and you're walking out with a win.
- And it's tough because you always look at the plays at the end of the game like, oh they didn't-- they couldn't close it out. But man, Pascal played 44 minutes playing the five, VanVleet played 47 minutes. It's like, Yo like, they had amazing games because they basically had to full carry the game to get to that point.
And that third quarter the starters went completely off to save that game because they went into the third down 10 because the bench completely blew it open. They couldn't-- if the bench is getting outscored by their third stringers, and that was really the difference in that game. KD was pretty much held in check. The Raptors starters played KD really well.
- He did shoot well. Well, he did shoot under KD standard.
- They played Patty Mills pretty-- Patty Mills and KD went off but the Raptors starter scored enough to even them out. They lost because you've got Edwards going off for 17 points. You got Day'Ron Sharpe getting 7 and 7 off the bench, right. Their third stringers, who are legitimately third stringers, like, legitimately like, we call them up before--
- They don't play.
- Yeah. It's like who is the closest D Leaguer to the arena? Leave. And those guys came up and they showed out. While, you know our bench, it's like, get nine minutes out of Svi and he's negative 15 in those nine minutes. It's crazy. Like it's insane. How did you turn over the ball twice in nine minutes?
- It's disappointing after the Kings game. You thought they were kind of turning the corner. So I want to ask you this next. You got OG, Khem, Precious coming back. I'd like to say within the next week or two weeks. Ideally, around Christmastime or beyond Christmastime that all three are back in the lineup. What does it look like because you're getting good basketball from Pascal.
Scottie, who everyone wants to hear about and we'll be talking about Scottie in a little bit here, has been sensational, had a wonderful game against the Nets. What happens with their minutes, what happens incorporating Precious and Khem back in, and what that might mean for Chris Boucher, himself, who's been getting a lot of tick lately, and tell me a little bit about what you see the foundation of the team and the team dynamic looking forward.
- So I don't know who Nick Nurse decides to start. I guess it depends on which one of Khem and Achiuwa comes back first. They get to be the starter to kind of go with and then you play with it, depending on how he wants to do it. But with OG back, the one thing you're going to see is you're just going to see less. Like Pascal's minutes are going to come down a bit and Fred's minutes are going to come down a bit. Just because those starter with the bench lineups that they have to run, now you can use OG instead of Pascal and Fred to carry those so you have a little bit more room there.
Also, even if the minutes don't come down, you're definitely going to see the stat totals come down. Right now, it's like, yo, Pascal has got 25, Fred's got 31, Gary Trent got 25, Scottie's got 23. Those are awesome stats. And you look at their last five games, all their stats are dope. But it's like because they have to do everything, right? It's like you got to get OG to draw those stats down. So the stats might come down and every night you're going to have one of the five, probably, have a poor shooting game, like they'll be below average shooting game.
But on the whole, you're just going to have a lot of guys getting, like, 20 points. And the one guy who's hot is probably going to carry it. And I think that's the one thing where a lot of people like-- when Pascal first came back they were like, oh Pascal came back, Scottie's numbers went down. I'm like, well yeah, because there's more good guys on the floor now. You've got to pass the touches around, right? But overall as a team, the starters were fantastic. So it should be interesting to see that.
I think just having Khem back and having Precious back is going to take-- it's going to ease the load that's been on Pascal and OG when they have been healthy and playing because they've been having to take these bigs. So I don't want to really see too many-- I think Justin Champagnie probably doesn't get too many minutes anymore. I think he's probably out of the rotation again. Just because he was being used basically as a Ronde Hollis Jefferson-type 5. And I think Malachi Flynn is probably gone out of the rotation again because you don't need the extra shooter.
And Svi honestly is probably your knife man, right? So if Svi's playing well, he's in the rotation. If he's not playing well, you play Banton instead. You play Banton, maybe you play Flynn in front of him because now you have a lot more bigger bodies. So you can afford to put Flynn in. That'll be-- I think overall we should just be happy that we're getting health back. And I wouldn't even say a week or two.
Usually what happens is like, Nick Nurse isn't trustworthy for shit. The guy's a liar. He just be lying on stage. But he did say they did practice. And usually it takes, for an injured player to come back for the Raptors like they have to go through one full practice. And as long as they can go through a practice without any issues, they're able to play. So I think we could see them, potentially this weekend or in the coming week. But of course--
- Because we're still in that race. We're not completely out of it. Last time I checked the standings about a game or, a game back from the play-in and maybe two, 2 and 1/2 games back from the 8 seed. So it's good to see the reinforcements and the troops coming back in.