Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse discusses the improved spacing in the halfcourt offence, Pascal Siakam's play, Thaddeus Young not getting minutes recently and what Otto Porter Jr.'s role will be once he returns.
- Shoot the ball very well. What do you think's working well? Why are those looks going there?
NICK NURSE: Well, we're getting pretty good shots. I would say that much. I think there is a fair share of catch and shoot shots with, you know, a fair amount of being open or lightly contested, et cetera. So that's, I think, always the key. Can you get rhythm, you know, not contested ones, I think, is where it starts, taking good ones. It's a little early to-- that's why I was chuckling about it. All these-- throwing stats at me, I was--
- It's officially the five-game mark now.
NICK NURSE: Yeah, they sent me-- they sent me a big season wrap-up already, and I just moved on to the next step. I'm like, I'm not quite ready for that yet. But--
NICK NURSE: Yeah.
- In the same vein, I think we just say it's early for all of this stuff, but making all these shots has ruined your offensive rebounding percentage. In all seriousness, have you liked what you've seen at that pursuit? Or is-- or what's going on with the percentage being relatively low for you guys?
NICK NURSE: I mean, listen, I think that it's certainly-- that has a lot to do with it. Right? When there's the opportunity to get them, there's a-- you know, the quantity of them that are there, I mean, obviously, teams know that that's part of what we do.
And I thought especially Miami just did a great job of just absolutely, you know, checking us out hard early and often during the game. So we're going to have to, you know, understand that that's coming and figure out some kind of counters to that. Yeah, that's it, I guess.
- Watching from-- watching from home last night, a-- a thought occurred to me. What position does Pascal play?
NICK NURSE: Well, it's-- it's hard to say. I mean, he's obviously-- you know, he obviously is handling the ball a lot, right, which is a normal-- normal point guard position. So he's-- you know, but he's not really a traditional point guard either. You just-- he's just kind of the initiator of our offense, is what I would say a lot, right, and you know, back to, you know, the offensive shot selection or whatever.
I think that we're making pretty good choices, and it's-- it's gotten a little bit better as we've gone on here, just again, the shots seem to be, you know, good ones. You know, there's still a few, like, you kind of scratch your head and say, why did we do that, once in a while here and there. But that's probably when it's only a few or four or five a game, you're probably, you know, OK with.
But I think that, with how we're doing some things, Pascal ends up handling the ball a lot. Enables Fred to play off the ball, to utilize some of his strengths in the catch and shoot. Fred's-- Fred's obviously a good screen setter as well. Those two guys work together pretty well, so I'm not really sure he has a position.
- Is it too early to say that you're watching an athlete go to another level?
NICK NURSE: Oh, I don't know. I think that his-- his level of just engagement from kind of the moment the season ended last year-- all summer, I think you guys probably saw a lot, I said, when I'd see him, I was just like, boy, his workouts were at a high level. You know, you could just see great concentration and desire in him. He's playing both ends with great desire, and again, just looks comfortable with the ball out there.
So you know, he certainly is playing very well, and I think that, you know, people that have seen us a little bit, not as much as you guys all do, say the same. They look at him and say, jeez, he almost looks a little different this year. He looks really good, and I would-- I would echo that, yeah.
- Are those better drops of yours coming because guys know each other better, and they know where they're going to be, where they like the ball, and they have a better continuity with the group?
NICK NURSE: Yeah, I think so. I mean, that's always-- that always helps, I think. I think, there's, again, the promise is just to make the right next play. Right? The next play is the right one, and a lot of times, that's moving it on quickly.
I think we're seeing a lot of that. I think we're seeing a lot of, you know, taking advantage of mismatches or-- or, you know, just finding the right areas. And spacing's been-- been a big thing, too. It seems-- you know, our spacing seems to be getting a little bit better, too, and it isn't just standing there space. You know, there's some-- there's some continuity with those guys changing sides of the floor and getting respaced, or being in the paint and, you know, getting out of the paint and respacing and some of that stuff, I think, comes with continuity, yeah.
- Nick, to that point, philosophically, what's it take to get three to a team in general, to be unselfish? Because oftentimes, players and coaches talk about, we want to be unselfish. We need more [INAUDIBLE] it doesn't happen.
And so far, I mean, it's a weekend, but [INAUDIBLE] the ball a lot. Guys are looking for the pass, the extra pass, [INAUDIBLE] unselfish ball. It takes time to get bigger. How do you get through--
NICK NURSE: Yeah, and it's not like it's always solved either. Right? There's always some up and down moments in the year when you see different coverages. I mean, I'm sure we're going to see a whole, you know, different schemes tomorrow, and we've got to-- it always is kind of a puzzle to crack as the game goes on. Right?
But you know, I think that you got to try to learn your lessons as you're in preseason going. I mean, we had some-- we had some not good ball movement in some of our preseason games, and we really got to work on that. And you know, there's some of it is-- is drilling, and some of it's, you know, changing some of the sets, the way they look, you know, almost forcing passing just by some of the things you're running. But I'd much rather have it be, you know, kind of an organic thing, that they just realize they've got to just make the next best play.
- I want to ask you about Thad, a couple of games down, where he hasn't gotten in. Where do you see his role going forward? Do you consider him as part of the rotation, or is he more of a situational guy depending on match-up and whatnot?
NICK NURSE: Yeah, I mean, he's got to stay ready. That's-- I talked to him immediately after the Miami game, and he was, like, Coach, I'm ready, and I'll always be ready. And you know, totally with what we're doing, all that kind of stuff.
I wouldn't say that I planned on not using him in Miami that night, really. It just kind of how it turned out, and we'll see. We're going to need him.
There's just no doubt about it. I don't really have an answer-- direct answer for your question. It's kind of a night to night thing.
- Presuming Otto is back Friday or Monday or soon, obviously.
NICK NURSE: Yeah, Otto's actually out for personal reasons.
NICK NURSE: Yeah, for-- it'll be a little bit.
- Oh, no.
NICK NURSE: Yeah.
- Well, OK.
- You want to-- do you still--
- No, my question--
- Still have a question? [LAUGHS]
- Is it nice, to, presuming he would be back, to integrate him at a time when, you know, the bench has kind of picked up a little bit, the shooting is good. You're not sort of looking for him to kind of solve all your problems all at once. I can ask that next week.
NICK NURSE: No, no. Yeah, I mean, listen, I think that we want him back. He's a high level player and a high level shooter, which we certainly need. Right? So I would assume he's going to get right into the rotation, and-- and you know, we'll figure out how that affects the rest of it there.
Yeah, I think-- there's a lot of times, I think, that I'm looking to keep shooting on the floor, and that's a lot of the times why I'm subbing Gary back in fairly quickly and Freddy back in fairly quickly and just making sure there's enough balance out there. And it isn't that easy because there is times when we get out there with a really big lineup, right, and those guys can all-- all pop and make their share. But you know, they're not necessarily shooters. Right? I mean-- you know, I'm saying that. Well, maybe they are.
- Some guys have more gravity than others.
NICK NURSE: Yeah, yeah.
- Nick, back to the 3 point shooting, last year, you guys ranked 20th. But when you factor in Fred's numbers go down after the All-Star break, Precious comes up after the All-Star break, OG missing so much time, do you think that number was necessarily reflective of what you had?
NICK NURSE: I mean, listen, I just try not to get all that caught up in it. Right? I mean, I know-- I know dissecting it and trying to figure out why the numbers are what they are is fun to do, or maybe not fun to do, one of the two.
Yeah, I think you make good points. All those things are factors, right, of why-- why it isn't, and why it turns out that way. But it seems to me that, like, you know, there's times out there-- especially when, you know, if Precious and Chris are throwing in one or two, you look out there, and everybody's capable. Right?
You got-- you got Precious at the 5, and you know, you come down, and you look at Pascal handling and Freddy, Gary, and OG on the perimeter. And then they-- if Precious has to pop out there, too, it isn't like they can just totally disrespect it. Right?
So you can't ask for that much more than that out there. I mean, you certainly always can, but you know what I mean. There's threats. There's threats to keep spacing out there.
- You've spoken a lot about how--
- We spoke a lot about how Pascal has managed the game and the possession and sort of seeing what's out there. On Saturday, Fred cuts a huge offensive role. Yesterday, Fred has a smaller offensive role until the last few minutes. How impressed are you with not only how he's done it, but his willingness to sort of take the games as they-- as they come?
NICK NURSE: Who?
- Fred, sorry.
NICK NURSE: Yeah--
- I know you want him to err on the side of aggressiveness, but--
NICK NURSE: No, I mean, I think it's-- I mean, we're-- want him to, you know, get some more attempts. He's just too good a shooter for us to go, you know, up and down, up and down for large sections of the game without him getting some attempts. So you know, we try to get him involved with setting screens for him, coming off the ball, you know, not being on the ball and ball screens because, you know, sometimes, a lot of teams are just switching or blitzing or whatever to make-- make him get off it.
So we're setting some off the ball. We're letting him set and try to, you know, meander out or slip out. So we're just trying to use him a bunch of different tactics. Again, I think that the Saturday game, I think, whatever the second game in Miami, whatever it was--
- Monday, sorry.
NICK NURSE: Monday's game in Miami, I just thought he was-- like I said yesterday, he was more aggressive in transition. And I think he's got to be, and I don't mean fast break. I just mean up the floor and pace and-- and making something happen quick and taking some opportunities there as well.