Nick Nurse on change to starting lineup vs. Cavaliers

Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse discusses why he made changes to his starting lineup, how Pascal Siakam looked in his return and more.

Video Transcript

- Go ahead.

- For a bunch of guys who hadn't really had much time playing together, you must have been pretty pleased with the way they sort of cohered and played defense and covered up defense.

NICK NURSE: Defense was really good, really solid and exactly right. There was a lot of execution, a lot of help for each other, great communication out there, defensively. Most of the night, there was a good defensive performance, for sure, almost start to finish. There was just one little stretch, and, then we gave up about four straight layups when we got up, I think, maybe 19 or something or 20. But really solid, really hard work and effort by our guys, all of them.

- That's, kind of, what you got from watching and that they sort of, anchor things they keep everybody together, kind of?

NICK NURSE: Yeah, well, I think that it was more of a case of not throwing a whole bunch of guys out there at the same time that are out of rhythm, haven't played, maybe played one game, et cetera. Just trying to keep some balance with some guys that have been, kind of, logging some minutes, et cetera. So that's the way we decided to do it tonight.

I think we got called on that one time a year ago, or maybe two years. We get a whole bunch of guys come back at once, and we threw them all out there. And we just got smacked. So we just try to learn from that a little bit and just try to keep some guys with some rhythm together. And seemed to be pretty good. Seemed to be good rotations, and it was working out OK.

- That first quarter you won, and didn't have any offensive rebounds. Can you remember any quarter like that for you guys?

NICK NURSE: No, no. I saw that. I looked down in the first quarter, they had six, we had zero. We were more concerned about them getting them. But yeah, it wasn't quite what we had in mind, for sure. We thought we maybe have a chance to get a bunch tonight. But we kind of turned it around. And it was maybe 5 to 1 in the second quarter in our favor. So, it's OK.

- Must be kind of nice to play like that, still have dominated games.

NICK NURSE: Well our defense was so good tonight. I just thought we just were-- we were just-- they were searching pretty hard for the right play all throughout the possessions. And when they did make it, we'd cover it up, and they'd have to do it all over again, a lot of times. So it's going to take you a long ways.

- How did the conversation with Gary go about not starting him? And how do you think he responded to that?

NICK NURSE: I didn't have a conversation with him. We just went up there. And before the game, we do our shoot-around and we get our matchups out there. And that's when both Gary and Scottie found out about it. This, and I'm just, again, trying to get the team to play as best as possible. Also him, I thought he had a really good game tonight, 14 and 7. I take that from him every night. He was really good on the glass, didn't seem to bother him one bit. And when he came in, he was ready to play.

- Strange to have that many weapons to work with? Maybe did you have to blink a few times?

NICK NURSE: It was. I mean, when you get used to very, very small bench and lots of non-subbing, and then you're trying to work a lot of subbing in there, it is a little different, especially for, it's been a few weeks now, maybe close to a month, so. But it was good. It was good. It felt good.

- Pretty good first day back at work for Pascal.

NICK NURSE: It was really good. Looked really like he hadn't missed a beat, right? He really was confident and getting to his spots, and made some tough shots in the first half, especially. But I just like the way he played both ends.

- Is that, you guys shot almost 43% from behind the arc. You were asked about Pascal's impact on that before the game. I guess OG was 4 for 6. Is that he's allowed to be more of a secondary guy?

NICK NURSE: Yeah, I'm just trying to think. I know Pascal found OG once on a trail for a 3. I think Scottie did the exact same play, took it hard in transition, turned around, and OG's trailing down the middle. So there's one from Pascal, one from Scottie. I think Pascal kicked that one out to Juancho, which was another good one, too. So yeah, it probably created a few tonight.

- Tonight might not be the best example. But when you think of the way you, kind of, envision this team looking in the off-season, in terms of the identity of the team, and how they've actually looked on the night-to-night basis, is it pretty close in terms of that execution that you're seeing?

NICK NURSE: I mean, we're getting there, I think. Defensively, I would say that probably, is always where I'm leaning my thoughts towards. Because I just know that that'll get you out of some nights when we don't shoot it well, or don't offensive rebounded or whatever, that'll get you in games. And I just think that we can grab and seize momentum, based on our defense in a lot of games, right. And get to, kind of, just knowing that it's going to be hard to score, I think, has a big overall effect on the game. So we're getting there on defense. They're getting a little bit more in sync. I think there's still plenty of work to do at the offensive end yet. But we'll keep working at that.

- You mentioned that starting lineup was partially to get guys back and stuff. It seemed to work tonight. Do you think you'll go with it moving forward?

NICK NURSE: I don't know. I think I'll probably have to look at the lineup that we're going to be facing in the next game, and then just try to figure it out. It could be totally different.

- Thanks very much.

NICK NURSE: All right. See you later.