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Nick Nurse's outside-the-box coaching style paying off for Raptors

3 26 0
05.06.2019

OAKLAND — Bobby Webster knew something was different, he just wasn’t sure what.

One possession passed, then another.

Was that? No. It couldn’t be.

Why yes, yes it was.

Webster, the Toronto Raptors general manager, almost had to laugh.

When he and team president Masai Ujiri hired Nick Nurse, they hoped they were getting a coach who would take risks and be bold. It was how he’d made his name working his way up through the minor leagues and as an NBA assistant.

And over the course of a long season Nurse had long ago won his bosses over. The scrutiny that comes with being a head coach in the NBA hadn’t curbed his willingness to take a chance, to look a bit silly sometimes.

But even for Nurse this was outside the box.

The Raptors were playing a gimmicky middle school defence to try and contain the greatest shooter of all time and change the momentum of an NBA Finals game.

And it almost worked.

“It took me a couple of times down to figure it out,” said Webster. “You knew they were in some kind of zone and finally you realized what they were doing with Steph. You’re so into the game at those moments, but you had a little chuckle that in the NBA Finals someone’s doing a box-and-one.”

It’s what the Raptors hired him to do — not necessarily come up with a paint-by-numbers masterpiece but figure out how to win games by any means necessary.

If it means colouring outside the lines?

So be it.

“I know, everybody’s making fun of me for it, right?” said Nurse. “[But] first of all, your players have to have some faith in it. I got a sense of, from them, that they were good with it in the timeout … Kyle [Lowry] was kind of the one that said, ‘Yeah, man, that will work, let’s go.’

“That kind........

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