Nurse excited for "tremendous challenge" of writing up game plan vs. Nets

·4 min read

Led by a trio of superstars, the Brooklyn Nets have the most potent offence in the NBA, averaging a league-leading 122.3 points a night, on a NBA-best 50.1 per cent shooting.

And the roster beyond Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden, isn't exactly a collection of slouches. DeAndre Jordan is shooting 81.3 per cent, and leads a slew of other offensive threats.

Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse could only laugh Thursday when the stats were rattled off to him in a Zoom availability.

How does he game plan for such a unique team?

"Looking forward to it. I think it's a tremendous challenge," Nurse said. "Obviously, three of the great scorers in the league. That isn't all they got. They've got a lot of players, they've got depth, size, obviously. We're still formulating the game plan but we'll try to come up with something."

The Raptors (9-12) are in Brooklyn on Friday to battle Canadian rookie coach Steve Nash and his Nets (14-9).

How does Nurse balance attention paid to the trio of superstars versus the rest of the roster?

"That's kind of your decision," Nurse said. "I think there's always ways of doing it. Are you really trying to take those guys out, and you're going to pretty much live with anything from the others? How do you react to some of that?

"We've never really, even when we've tried to take certain guys out, we still certainly try to never disrespect the other guys."

Fresh off Fred VanVleet's historic 54-point performance on Wednesday, Nurse will need his offence humming on Friday. It'll likely take 120 points to win, someone pointed out.

"That might be a little light. Going to have to add 10 to that," Nurse replied. "Hopefully. You can't assume that's going to happen, you've got to play well and make the right decisions on offence, and make some shots, no doubt about it.

"But I think that's probably a good starting point."

The Raptors face Durant for the first time since the former Golden State star ruptured his Achilles tendon in Toronto during the 2019 NBA finals. It wasn't one of Toronto's finest moments as some fans cheered the injury.

Nurse, however, had kind words for Durant ahead of Friday's game.

"He looks great," Nurse said. "He’s one of the world's great shooters, just unbelievable skill that he has combined with the size to get it off and so pure . . . he looks fantastic. I’m really happy for him . . . always liked him as a player and a person."

Pascal Siakam, who's averaging 19.2 points this season, said he can't wait to battle the Nets' Big 3.

"It's exciting playing against guys like that, man. Every night you go out there and that's what the league is about, having super-talented guys that you have to play against," Siakam said. "You want to go out there and lace 'em up."

Raptors forward OG Anunoby will miss his fifth game with a left calf strain.

Siakam, VanVleet and Norman Powell spent time with Malachi Flynn on Wednesday before the rookie guard was sent to Orlando to join Raptors 905 for the shortened G-League bubble season.

"Jokingly, it was kind of like it was his 'Last Supper' -- the last time we'll have food together as a team," said Siakam, who along with VanVleet really honed his game with the 905s. "I said: 'Show that you belong in the league, show your leadership, go out there and you have time to play minutes, it's basketball so have fun and just do what you've got to do and then you're going to be right back here.'"

Siakam said it's particularly tough being drafted in the first round but then being sent down to the G League. It can feel like going backwards.

"But you can't have that mentality," Siakam said.

"So it's a good opportunity (he told Flynn) and don't take it for granted. Don't go out there moping around and stuff. You've got to take it as an opportunity and just go out there and try to run with it."

The Raptors continue their road trip Saturday at Atlanta. They play next week at Memphis, Washington and Boston before returning to their Tampa "home" base.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 4, 2021.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press