Raptors coach Nick Nurse discusses Jeff Dowtin Jr.’s game, his performance vs. the Pelicans and how he’s going to handle his bench rotation.
- Nick, what would go into your decision to play Jeff, you know, kind of, or exclusively at point guard, I mean, obviously, a threat being out. But what's he done that you would move him into that-- those minutes?
NICK NURSE: I just think that, as I said last night, he's played pretty solidly, just, in every little kind of bit role that we've given him this year. And he's-- and, first of all, defensively, right? And we've used him, you know, once or twice early in the year in some clutch defensive end-of-game things. And he came through.
And that's it, really, just trying to upgrade just a little and see-- you know, see where it lands I think that both Malachi and Delano have done decent at times. But I'm just kind of looking to see if we can't just a little bit on the upgrade there. That's it, you know, and see how it looks.
- Do you think the defense is more suited with the act behind him? A bit of a gambler, a bit of a--
NICK NURSE: Nah. He's just pretty good defensively, Doug. I don't think he-- and I think he understands he's not afrai-- you know, like-- like I told him before the game, you know, last night, I said, listen, I'm going with you tonight. And you got to match up here with Alvarado. Like, you got to go-- you got to go after this dude, like, cause he's coming after-- he come-- that's the way he plays. And you got to go out there and meet him with that. And I thought Jeff, really-- you know, when he checked in, you could just kind of see he was ready to get in the fight.
So, nah, he's just really good defensively. He just does it on the ball. He does it with his hands. He does it with his feet. And he does it off the ball.
- How big is the gap there between Malachi and him defensively?
NICK NURSE: I don't know. I think, from what I've seen so far, you know, Jeff has certainly had a little bit better, a little bit more size and strength over Malachi. And that's about it.
- Is it. There was a little bit of a test for him, given he's a two way still, right? So if you were to-- I'm talking about Jeff-- so if he were to be a part of your playoff picture, it means he has converted. So is it kind of like you want to-- you got to find out?
NICK NURSE: Yeah, I think so. I mean, again, I'm-- that's certainly on the table. It's a valid, you know, point. But I think that, I mean, I just kind of break it all down and simplify it to what I said at the beginning. I'm just trying to get a little bit of an upgrade there and see if it is a little bit of an upgrade or not. And I guess you're right, that answers your question. Like, we got to find out. And now is the time.
- Jeff was saying that he really takes a personal when someone scores on him. How quickly can you get that sense from the player that they really take that level of pride [INAUDIBLE]?
NICK NURSE: Well, I just think that he's always been, you know, kind of of a battler, right? Like, he gets in to compete. And I don't know, I just think that from the first time I saw him in the summer, you know, got in there, you could just see that he's a competitor. And that's like, if you're gonna be any good on defense in this League, especially at that size, you'd better be ready for battle and you better be ready to go.
And that's good. I mean, I don't think you hear guys talk about that as much anymore, you know? You know, there's so much back and forth, score, score, score, score, that, you know, I mean-- you know, 100 years ago when I played. I remember. You know, it can really make me mad. I'd think about it for weeks, you know, guys scoring on me, you know? I'd hold BJ Armstrong to 29 points or something. It still bothers me to this day, you know?
- --report from Argentina last night?
NICK NURSE: I did.
- What did you get?
NICK NURSE: I heard it was a great atmosphere. They were really-- it was really jumping in there. They had their guns in, Argentina did. We were-- Nate said the guys played absolutely as hard as they could and did a good job, just not quite enough last night.
- With this process coming to a close, what's it say about the program that you got through 12 games with 35 different kind of guys, different guys, maybe, or something like that?
Yeah. Well-- yeah, it's certainly challenging. I think it's-- I mean, obviously, we're happy with where we end up in the group and all that stuff, right, and some really good wins. I think it says a lot to our depth, you know, in Canada ba-- just Canada basketball in general, right, that we can, you know, kind of keep going out there and, you know, fielding a team under, you know, these are tough circumstances sometimes.
These guys are in the middle of a season, and 20 hours of travel to get there, and all that kind of stuff, right? It's tough on guys that are making their living, you know, playing basketball that need a break once in a while. So again, I give credit to some of the guys that are there every time. It's amazing. And then, you know, the guys that do show up, it's-- we appreciate it.
- With nothing on the other end. Like, there's nothing-- they're not playing for Paris. They're not playing for Jakarta. They're playing for Venezuela and Argentina, right?
NICK NURSE: And they're playing for Canada, right? They get a chance to play. And again, I think it's we appreciate that they get out there and-- like, you said, the games aren't totally meaningless, but just about, right, you know what I mean? Just about. But you still get to represent your country and go out there and test your skills against some of the best players in the world.
- Yesterday, I was asking about, kind of, your guys' decision, maybe a month ago, to really lock in and up the work load a little bit. This franchise has always been kind of blue collar, you know, emphasis on the work development. Is that something you guys maybe got away from a little bit early in the season?
NICK NURSE: Nope. We just piled on more.
- Nick, obviously, Alvarado was Jeff's primary manager.
NICK NURSE: Yep.
- Those reps that he did get against CJ, how did you feel he faired in those?
NICK NURSE: Good. I mean, I felt good about it. Like, I know that probably sounds strange. But, you know, when the ball's in there, and they're changing ends, and he ends up on them, you know, I'm like, you know, I want-- I remember saying on the bench last night I want Jeff on him, right? Like, Jeff, at this moment in the game, is the best guy to have on him.
He got cooking a little bit. I mean, you know, he's got a lot of one-two combinations, and he was in a lineup where you knew he was gonna be getting a lot of actions on and off the ball. I probably, after watching it-- well, I don't know, I kind of was thinking that maybe I should've changed coverages or something a little bit, considering who they had on the floor. But we can do that after every game. I'm-- you know, about 30 of those, I wish I'd do differently. But, I was-- we played it pretty straight up last night. So it was good to get away from-- get away with that.
- I wouldn't want to jinx anything, but--
--but in a perfect world, would you want to have a fairly steady bench rotation, you know, health allowing and all of that? Or do you kind of still want to--
NICK NURSE: No, yeah, I mean, for sure. I think if we could get to one and-- you know, I just-- again, I would not sit here and, you know, sit on the edge of my seat saying, it's gonna to happen. Like, you just can't do that. You got to-- yeah, you got to plan. And if it's there, you got to use it. And you got to hope you can keep it there, and find a good one that works, and get-- spill some consistency. But you also got to be ready to, you know, flip on a moment. I mean--
NICK NURSE: It happened yesterday again, right, where we're-- you know, we had all these days of, you got everybody, you got everybody, you got everybody. And, whoopsie, we didn't even get to one game.
- That's why I practice my questions.
NICK NURSE: Yeah.
- Eric asked you last night about the last play of the game with Gary and Pascal and how that's your go-to move with Fred or whatever. What does that allow you to do, knowing that you have other guys can sort of run that play and knowing that you could use Gary or Fred--
NICK NURSE: Yeah.
- --whenever it was helping.
NICK NURSE: I mean, I think that most teams would have more than one guy that could run that play. So it's good that we-- have it's good that we have a couple. And it's good that we could see it and get Gary in that movement. He's done it some earlier in the year as well, maybe not that late in the game, eh, maybe a couple times. But it's good.
I think, again, I would like to say that we'd be able to mix it up, you know, and we can attack. Rather than using exactly who we want to use, we can use maybe four different people in that action going at what we consider, maybe, one of their weaknesses, if that makes sense. So that's what I would like to get. To I'd like to get to Pascal Freddy, Pascal Gary, Scottie Freddy, Scottie Gary. You know, that way, we can attack the way we want to attack.
NICK NURSE: You're welcome.
- Thank you, Nick.
- Thank you.
- Thank you, everybody.