One scrimmage in, Raps still have some work to do — Toronto Sun

Having finally played someone other than themselves, the Raptors sound content with their progress in this NBA re-start but still focussed on cleaning off some rust that has set in over the long break. Read More

One scrimmage in, Raps still have some work to do — Toronto Sun

Having finally played someone other than themselves, the Raptors sound content with their progress in this NBA re-start but still focussed on cleaning off some rust that has set in over the long break.

Here is what head coach Nick Nurse took from it:

“Well, I think it told me that we looked OK,” Nurse began. “I think there’s, again, a lot of the stuff we talked about already. We expected different levels individually of conditioning, we saw that. We expected some inconsistent, out of rhythm play. We saw that. And we saw a lot of really good stuff. The ball moved, we got stops, our defence was pretty darn good. Especially when you look at the numbers after the game. It was .89 points per possession. That’s going to win you damn near every game. A lot of good things.”

But for Nurse it was also served to change the way he will approach the final two scrimmage games.

His initial intent was to ramp up the minutes of his starters and key rotation players but that changed for Nurse after the win over Houston.

“I thought we would ramp this way (upward hand motion) through the scrimmages, minutes-wise, and my thought today is maybe it will stay the same or even go the other way. I think the scrimmages are going to provide just an opportunity similar to last night, and we still have the eight regular season games to maybe ramp up.”

Pascal Siakam who looked in fine form throughout the game, said it pretty much came as advertised.

“ I think just that it was expected, it wasn’t gonna be pretty, it wasn’t gonna be the best performance or whatever but that’s the reason we have these scrimmage games to come in and get the rust off or whatever, get out there and get shots up, focus on defence, kinda get used to the environment and all those things so that’s what we’re working on,” Siakam said. “I think it was a good day, good game for our team, obviously we got the win, but also just getting out there and playing against somebody else, I mean, we’ve been playing against each other for a little while here.”

A GENTLE REMINDER

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson sat through about a seven minute interview with various members of the media (mostly Toronto based) and didn’t have one question asked of him about the issue or social inequality or police reform or accountability that the NBA has been focussed on since its return.

Full disclosure, having been on most of these calls with players and coaches and management these past few weeks, that is a rarity but in this instance it happened and Hollis-Jefferson called us all out for it.

“One final thing I just wanted to say,” he began. “I didn’t say anything. I just wanted to see how the questions were set up and what you guys wanted to ask. Now some of you guys have the biggest platforms in the media and talking points and lots of people follow you guys so I want to challenge you all, man, to kind of … we know what it going on in the world and where our focus should be. I know basketball has been missed and it’s loved but there are a lot of crazy things going on in this universe and we need you guys along with a lot of other people to put this word out, to put this message out, that we need unity. We need love. We need positivity and that starts with us and then it starts with you guys because you guys get our message out. So please, please take this a little bit more seriously. I appreciate you guys.”

GETTING USED TO THE QUIET

The lack of any noise over what they actually create themselves has members of the Raptors a little unsure as they got their first taste of a game – or in this case a scrimmage – without actual fans.

Nick Nurse said he stopped short when he began to call out a defensive alignment when he realized all five of his own players and all five Rockets were hearing what he was saying.

“I caught myself stopping about halfway through because all 10 players were listening to me instead of just my five,” Nurse said. “I think when there’s crowd, music, your guys are used to kind of hearing you. That was noticeable, that you maybe are not gonna be able to just bark out whatever you wanna do, and if you do, they’re gonna know, they’re gonna hear it.”

Siakam said it was just going to take some getting used to.

“Obviously it’s an atmosphere we haven’t been in (before),” he said. “I made a joke that it looks like some of the arenas we wouldn’t play at but, nah, there’s nobody there, I think we just gotta figure out a way to give each other energy and I think the bench is gonna be important or whenever you’re on the bench, having that energy to kinda like boost your teammates, I think that’s what it’s gonna take.”

QUICK HITS

ESPN was reporting last night that the league is investigating Clippers guard Lou Williams who, while on an excused absence from the NBA campus, was photographed at an Atlanta Gentleman’s club on Thursday night. He could be looking at a 10-14 day quarantine before he can re-join his Clippers teammates … Nurse was asked by a reporter Saturday evening what his expectations were for the Raptors in the bubble. “We’re coming here to win the thing,” Nurse said. “That’s what we’re trying to do. We like our team, we think we have incredible chemistry, and some toughness and great competitors, man. There’s some really special players on this team that play to win each and every night, and we just are going to see how far we can take it. And, for us, we set our goals high.”

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