Nick Nurse updates the injury status of several Raptors

Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse discusses who will be available for Saturday's game vs. the Mavericks, the team's defensive schemes and Pascal Siakam leading while he's injured.

Video Transcript

NICK NURSE: How are we doing today?

- Good. How are you?


- How's your team health-wise now, any better?

NICK NURSE: Well, let's see-- go ahead.

- No.

NICK NURSE: Say something. Well, let's see-- Freddie's questionable for tomorrow. Pascal's still out. Scottie's questionable for tomorrow. Everybody else is still out, I believe. Anyone more specifics?

- Did Scottie or Fred go today?

NICK NURSE: He did not.

- I know you were hoping--

NICK NURSE: Fred went, Scottie did not.

- I know you were hoping to have Pascal cleared for contact by the end of the week. Was he able to do any more today?

NICK NURSE: Pascal has gone every day since we've been talking. Yeah?

- Dalano's still sick.

NICK NURSE: Dalano was back. I still think he's questionable as well, though.

- What have you thought of what Jeff has been able to contribute the last--

NICK NURSE: He's been pretty solid, right? He's been pretty solid. Obviously, he made a really big defensive play at the end of a game for us. So we like him, his ability to spot in those kind of situations.

And you know, he's been pretty solid. He hasn't made mistakes, right, which is part of his role. So he's been pretty good.

- How do you change your approach to Dallas, knowing that even the last time you played, in that last game, Pascal slipped, and the roster has changed significantly since then?

NICK NURSE: Well, we've just got to game plan with what we think we're going to have tomorrow, right? Obviously put all those guys in the situations today through the walkthroughs. Just lean on them to execute better, right? Execute what we're trying to do better.

I think that that's my-- I think my thought in general is, we've done a heck of a job, man. We've really played some good basketball. We did not in the second half the other night. And most of that came down to execution, and just being in rhythm and feel and stuff.

So we've got to continue to get back to some of those other games where no matter who's out there, we've still got to execute what we're doing. Because if we can do that, that gives us some chemistry, keeps us all on the same page, gives us a fighting chance.

- Do you still have the same expectations, especially when it comes to containing Luka?

NICK NURSE: For sure. You've got to do it. You've got to do it.

- You guys are-- I mean, not breaking any news here-- you're a super aggressive defensive team. When there's somebody as good as Luka, and you have a guy as good as OG, is there any temptation to really dial back the help you provide, or the trapping that you do, and just let them go? Or is that just not to the identity right now, and doesn't make sense?

NICK NURSE: Well, I think it makes it hard to do that, only because of what happens if OG's not out there, he subs out, or he's in foul trouble, or like-- you've got to be careful because he's our absolute number one option on offense right now too, right? So will he have his moments, where we let him guard him? Yeah, I would imagine so. But will we have lots of schemes put in to do some things? I'd imagine that would be the case as well. Haven't decided on all that stuff yet, but I will before game time tomorrow.


- Nick, when-- you don't have to overgeneralize, but when did you arrive at the thing that your style is going to be, we won't let stars beat us versus, you know what? We're going to let someone-- we've seen this before, sometimes they'll just single cover a guy. He goes for 50, but no one else hurts you. Like, when did you decide your approach would be to lock up their stars when possible?

NICK NURSE: Well, my approach in general, I think, is this, is that I look at what a team does well, and I try to come up with a game plan to combat that. Whatever that is, if it's a star guy playing a lot of iso, then we're going to try to take them out of that. If it's a free-flowing, cutting, rhythmic offense, then we're going to try to disrupt that rhythm. If it's they don't play well against zone, we'll play zone, whatever it is.

So I think it's more of that than it is I'm trying to be this guy that's trying to stop the stars, it's not. I'm trying to put together the best game plan that I think we can execute to give us a chance to win, period.

- In Dallas, you threw the kitchen sink at Doncic, like, everything. And for a quarter, it felt like you kind of had him off-balance a little, and then he adjusted. Again, going in this time with less of a roster, how do you-- how do you gameplan for him now? Like, what do you do?


- What's your plan?


- But you know what I'm getting it.

NICK NURSE: Well, I mean, fair points. To your question, it does make it challenging. And listen, guys, it's like the thing I'm telling you-- what makes it challenging is that there isn't OG, to Pascal, to Scottie, to Precious. That's what makes it challenging.

Because I always say this-- it's not always the schemes. It is sometimes, but sometimes it's rotating different guys, being able to align differently with who you want your maybe second best defender to guard, because they're sending that person up to him to do a two-man action. So now, you can keep your best two defenders in the action.

And maybe you got Christian or one of your centers over there guarding Dinwiddie or Bullock or somebody, just because you're trying to-- again, for the 1-2 combo up there. So there is give and take to all that. That's what makes it more challenging.

But we've still got to do it. And we've still got to figure out the contingency plans when what you do happens to go. And then you've got a bad matchup on a Doncic iso. Well, what are you going to do next?

It's kind of like-- it's kind of like when you switch a lot. And you switch a small guy onto a big, who takes your little guy into the post. Well, now what are you going to do? Well, there's plans B, C, and D for that too, right? So that's kind of what it comes down to.

- Well--

NICK NURSE: Without getting too deep in the woods here.

- I mean--


- --but Thad had been, obviously, very consistent. But how much more are you forced to rely on his consistency on a game-to-game basis, especially in Dallas?

NICK NURSE: Well, we're probably relying on his consistency just to help us organize defensively. That's one thing, to help us relay, and get those schemes passed, and help those guys execute them. He's kind of that captain communicator back there, with the experience.

And then at the other end, we've been probably going to him more where we're initiating a lot of offense through him. You guys probably have noticed we throw him the ball, and guys start cutting, and moving, and running some different things. And that's been pretty steadying for us and pretty effective.

- Is he similar to Marc Gasol in a way, the way you're using Thad?

NICK NURSE: A little bit, yeah, a little bit. I mean, Gasol is, like, upper, upper, upper echelon of big men passers to ever play the game, right? Thad's really good, but Marc's way up there.

- Do you know if there's a certain type of cutter, though, that works really well with that kind of--

NICK NURSE: Of course, of course there's certain guys that have good rhythm, and hesitation, and stop-start, to getting open on their cuts. And it's part of our system we've had to work on a little bit more here recently, is to try to get a few more of those actions. We've got to create actions out of our offense now a lot, and just give somebody the ball, and let them go. The offense has to create a lot of these shots. So it's been some work, but they're doing OK.

- I think the reverse has happened a little bit too, the last two games, where OG has found Thad as a cutter. Is that, like, the little victories you can take, that, like, they're expanding things a little?

NICK NURSE: Yeah, I mean, I think that you guys, when you look at it, you're going to sit there. And they're going to say, OK, OG gets the ball, and he starts driving. What are we going to do? What's the other team going to do?

Well, they're going to say, well, don't come off of Fred. Don't come off of Gary. Don't come off guys that are perimeter--

You know, and they'll probably say, well, if Thad's down there, come off. And it's probably going to be a non-paint 2 or something. And it's just the situation that the way they've schemed us or schemed OG, that he's hitting the open man.

- Just over these cameras moments ago, it seemed like OG and Pascal were having some talking. It seemed like Pascal was coaching OG up a little bit. Is that something that happens a lot? And how valuable is that to have, guys who are coaching like that?

NICK NURSE: Well, Pascal's doing his best right now to continue to lead us, right? He gathered the group today a little bit, saying what you guys would probably all think, is that this is opportunity for these guys. And they've got to take it.

And the way they have to take it for us is they have to play hard, and they have to execute, execute what we're doing. That's what's going to give them a chance to play when even guys come back healthy. Here's their opportunity. Pascal's saying, you guys need to seize--

For the most part, they have. They didn't in the second half the other night. A lot of those other games, they played really good basketball. But they were executing the game plans to a tee, right? And that's what we're just asking them to do.

- Pascal has admitted that's not something that comes easily to him, the verbal part of being the leader. How pleased are you to see him taking that on?

NICK NURSE: Yeah, I mean, I would say I'm pleased. But to me, it seems like it is fairly comfortable to him now. He's easing into that role.

- I mean, in the past--

NICK NURSE: No, I understand what you're saying. I'm just saying to me, I'm not asking him to do it. He's coming forward and saying, hang on a second, Coach. I've got to speak to these guys or whatever. And I think he is trying to be helpful even in one-on-one situations or whatever, too.

But it's good. I think it's his station with this team. That's his role with this team right now. He's a leader of-- one of the leaders of this team. And that comes with some responsibility. And he's taking it. And I think he's taking it gracefully. He's taking it on gracefully.

- Is that just the circle of life in the NBA, like, the experience, the reps, and--

- "Lion King"--

NICK NURSE: Everybody just hold hands. Let's hold hands.

- Being around guys like Fred and Kyle, like, does that-- do you think that's sort of rubbed off on him as well?

NICK NURSE: Yeah, I mean, I think so. I think it does come with years, and being around. And again, it also shows the deep, I think, understanding and care for the team. He wants the team to do well. And he's going to do whatever he's got to do to make sure that that team does well.

But yeah, I think that naturally flows with just your station of being here so long, and being one of the top players. And now, you've got to be one of the leaders as well.

- Is Boucher OK? I didn't see him after--

NICK NURSE: Yep, he was there. He's good.

- All right.

- How would you compare Pascal's method of delivery, in terms of the messaging to the rest of the teammates, to someone like Fred? Do they take different approaches? Are they kind of the same?

NICK NURSE: No, very similar, very similar, yeah. We good?

- Cool.

- Take care.

NICK NURSE: OK, everybody. Thanks a lot.

- How was your Thanksgiving?

NICK NURSE: Amazing.

- Dalano participated?

NICK NURSE: Brazil won.

- Dalano participated?

NICK NURSE: He did. He did, but he's still questionable.

- Yeah, yeah.


- Was going to say that.