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The advice Nick Nurse gave Pascal Siakam on offensive game

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Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse discusses the team's bench having a great game, why the defence has improved and a few suggestions he gave Pascal Siakam regarding his approach on offence.

Video Transcript

- Nick, that's the second game in a row your defenses look really, really locked in right from the start. What did you think about them early in the game, especially?

NICK NURSE: Yeah. We were really connected, you know. Just, just not a whole lot of mistakes. And most of the shots had somebody in front of them, one way or another. And, and it's good to see. I thought that group that started it, you know, set the tone.

But I also thought every single guy that came in off the bench brought the same kind of energy. And even, maybe, a little more. Which is, you know, that's kind of what we're hoping for it to look like. But it was a good, I thought, all around team effort defensively.

- I don't think we've seen a Toronto game, like, by Chris, like you played tonight. He was effective all over the floor, I guess. Is he just getting more comfortable, do you think? Like, what--

NICK NURSE: Well, I mean, I-- yeah, I guess. I mean, he's kind of-- he's kind of, maybe, you know, pressed a little too hard or whatever, Doug. And he's just kind of settled in a little bit more. And he just was very, I thought-- he was just very alert, you know. The things that were happening were usually his man jumping out and he was just the recipient of, of being alert to be open, you know.

He did a little slide along the baseline there at one time when his man switched and he just called for the ball. He got a couple on some rolls. But he was good. Just-- and he was solid on D, too. So that was good. Just good, good to see. Good to see. It's more-- more what we need from him.

- Pascal, does he see more assertive? Like, he can put 12 free throws and something like that?

NICK NURSE: Yeah. But he-- yeah. He's really, I thought, playing the last few games, you know, really dictating. Like, he's, he's a good tempo and under control. I think he's keeping himself kind of turned to see everything that's below him. And working his way down. And just, you know, he's-- he really has a good feel for where everybody is and, and what his match-up looks like and, and getting to some good spots.

- Why do you think that prevention with Scottie sort of leading the way was so successful tonight?

NICK NURSE: Well, just energy, I think, more than anything. I think, again, they just-- they just come on it and start flying around. And you could just see, again, I thought, you know-- you know, I'm talking about this a lot, but there was great connectivity by the first unit. And, and the second unit kind of picked up on that, I think, and fed from that. And again, they just, you know, they were just all locked into coverages and talking and communicating. And I just think all four of them brought great energy.

- In the pre-- I'm sorry, go ahead. Go ahead. In the pre-game, you talked about team packing the paint. And I saw Pascal beat a couple of different looks tonight. Is that something you guys focus on pre-game? Is that to be more assertive even if they pack the paint to get the jumper?

NICK NURSE: Yeah, well, we did. We did. Pascal and I did talk about, you know, I've already kind of mentioned it. But just kind of playing a little more faced up. Or when he is backing down, remaining looking at what's in front of him. You know, rather than so much turning and, you know, being surprised by somebody at the other end.

Again, he just kind of kept working his way down. But he had the vision of, of the spacing and the cutting, and, and what it was all looking like. And I think-- again, I think he controlled it well enough where they couldn't. It's almost like they wanted to double, but they never really did because he was kind of, you know, controlling it.

Like, like he knew that if they came, you know, like, it was going right there to a shooter or whatever. So they kept kind of staying home. And he, you know, he made them pay for that with, again, with good composure.

- The improved defense. Is that-- is that as much adhering to the scheme or is it more just the effort? I mean, they were swarming tonight.

NICK NURSE: Yeah. I mean, it's always effort, I think, defensively. But again, the improvement for me is that we were doing a much, much better job of keeping the ball in front. Or, you know, what we like to call rounding drives, right. So even if a guy starts going and beating you, that you're moving your body across.

Yeah, and he's having-- and that kind of sends it closer to help. It makes the help have to travel less distance. And then, if they have to travel less distance, they can usually get back to their own. Because again, it's a shorter distance to go back. So I think keeping the ball in front and rounding out the drives have been a-- have been a big factor in the last few games.

- Only 33 minutes for a front tonight. Some of that was circumstance with the foul trouble. But also, the bench playing well. Buying you some minutes there. Was is it nice to keep the minutes down a little bit, considering how heavy the workload has been recently?

NICK NURSE: Yeah, I mean it was a good run by the second unit that allowed us to do that, right. And they really-- both halves-- they really played well for extended minutes. And they were kind of at that point-- with eight minutes to go in the game-- where they just had a nice little sequence of about three trips each way.

I think it ended kind of with Chris's getting fouled on that 3. And we were debating, you know. It's kind of time to make the moves to get back. But they were playing so well we kind of wanted to give them, you know, another minute extra. And just, things like that.

I think Josh made it. And I thought Dalano played awesome tonight. He really was good. Really, really good defensively. And really, really running the team and getting guys shots. And getting some of his own shots, and things like that. He was good. That helped, too.

- I have to say, very impressive. Very good numbers, but he also had a very impressive impact on the game. What-- is he sort of fitting into a niche? Does he understand what he can and can't do or what--

NICK NURSE: Yeah. I mean, I just, I think he's understanding. And I just think he's getting better, I think. And I think part of that getting better is he is. He's understanding, you know, how we're doing things. And he's doing them more consistently.

And, I mean, we obviously do our best to give him things that'll work for him and work for us. And doing those over and over, repetitively, he's learning them and he's doing them better. I think he's playing harder, more aggressively. I mean, I thought that dunk he had was a-- kind of an exclamation point on the game.

It was a little funky there. You know, we were kind of-- they were scoring a lot and we were kind of getting good shots that weren't going in. And then, he made a huge rebound and drive, and kind of put the game away. But that's just, again, to me just shows his-- some of his energy and aggressiveness.

And then, some of his, you know, just impact with being able to keep the ball alive. And if we could ever get that lob play down, more, you know. We got one awesome one, right. We get a couple, two or three of those a game, we're going to be-- it's going to be really something.

- How much does, like, a vertical threat add to what you guys do?

NICK NURSE: It adds a ton. It adds a ton to us. Because, I think, that that always puts you in indecision of, are you going to continue to-- you're probably not going to give so much help on the driving guard. And that'd give Freddie some more chances. Or Gary, whoever's coming off there. And it also, obviously, should open up some more corner 3's, too.

- Early in that game, when you were really holding them down defensively, I saw Scottie and Precious switch a few times. And a few times, they didn't. And it seems like the communication was on point. Do you think, like, now is where we're seeing the reps starting to pay off with that sort of communication?

- Yeah. They were doing it right, Eric. I mean, there's, there's certain rules that you try to follow on that stuff on why you switch and why you don't. And they were-- they were getting them spot on, right. And that takes communication.

And then, sometimes, you do it wrong. But as long as you talk about it, right. As long as the two guys that are involved in it talk about it, they can-- they can do the other side of a coverage that, maybe, it wasn't supposed to be. But most of the time, tonight, they were doing it, you know, spot on the way they should. And good communication.

And, you know, it's a willingness by both of them to-- Scottie to chase a pretty small guard. That's coming off hard, but it's also Precious get's switched out on them. Now he's got to go to the next phase of it. Which is, you know, to guard him.

You know, get them off the 3 and get them the right direction. And send it-- find where the help is to send them back to. And I like that he's been doing that pretty aggressively.

- And more on Precious's defense. He-- I mean, he's not as big as most centers. He doesn't block a lot of shots. And yet, guys just seem to miss at the rim when he's there. Like, a lot. Why is that?

NICK NURSE: I don't know. He must be doing a good job of staying in front of them here lately. A little bit. I think he's squared himself up a little bit more to them, if that makes sense. I think he was opening up a little bit earlier in the season.

And we keep working on kind of-- and that is enough to make it more challenged. You know, some of those running layups are a little harder when you're kind of going right through a guy rather than around him, I guess. Doing a better job of that.

- That squaring up, would you say is hip mobility is, like, really good for a pick.

NICK NURSE: He's pretty good. He's got good feet. Yeah, he's got good feet. And he's not a-- he's not uncomfortable. You know what I mean? Guarding, you know. You can kind of tell the guys that are like, oh my God, I gotta-- you know. But he gets down and he's kind of like, come on, let's do it.

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