Nurse: Anunoby’s improved strength, athleticism helping his offensive game

Raptors coach Nick Nurse praised OG Anunoby’s developing strength and physicality to create shots and diversify his offensive game after their team’s win over the Knicks.

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Video Transcript

NICK NURSE: Think a six or eight to zero start, thought that kind of put a good stint in there for kind of a combo of the second unit and some other guys. And we got to try some things defensively with a couple really, big lineups. So it was all right. It was good. It was good conditioning. And it was good to see some lineups and see some other guys handle the ball and things like that.

- Do you think that starting lineup that you sort of, that you want to see defensively, whether [INAUDIBLE] connected to [INAUDIBLE] there?

NICK NURSE: It was really good I think both the last two games we've come out and been ready to go defensively. I'm not sure, we don't seem to sustain-- we do it for about six or seven minutes. And then I think, again, part of that's just getting some legs back and conditioning back. So I'm good at least they're ready to go. And at least they're showing some signs of being able to play some stingy defense. So hopefully we can extend those moments. And then bringing guys off the bench they can re-energize that and things like that.

- [INAUDIBLE] had a great day shooting the ball, but what if the offense came in the flow and some of it came, other guys played [INAUDIBLE] couple of different times. How much more flexible does that make you?

NICK NURSE: Well it makes us tough to guard, right? When he's coming down, hitting in transition, coming off screens. I agree with you on the main point. I think a big factor is Pascal's paint touches. You know, he's really being decisive. He had a couple where he didn't quite get them out tonight.

But they were really sending a lot of bodies. They surprised him a few times. But for the most part, a really, really great that he's getting out of there and being able to find guys out. Because I think that's usually a start to a good possession, Michael, when you can get a deep paint touch by a guy that's been scoring or can score if they don't send help. So he's been doing a good job of that.

- What do you think it is that makes Pascal be that aggressive? But you get in the paint sometimes and not all the time. And [INAUDIBLE].

NICK NURSE: Yeah, he's been, I think it's about three in a row now where he's good. I mean, you can maybe look at it as a bright side of, this is what the lineup was. And he had to kind of do with that game we were missing so many guys his first game back. And I think it was the Sixers.

We were playing through them a lot there. And it just kind of continues. I think, again it builds built his confidence and his confidence is good. And again, I love that he's seeing the play, the correct play a lot, which is good.

- In a second quarter lineup, you had Scottie out there handling the ball, initiating the offense. What did you think of him in that role?

NICK NURSE: Yeah, he did good right. I think he did fine I think kind of like I said before the game, you know, it's probably him, it's Pascal was handling it some as well. I think maybe it was other times when Scottie wasn't out there, Pascal was bringing it. And I think those are probably the next two best choices.

I did like a lot of our breakouts. You know, we got some rebounds and there was some other guys pushing it up the floor, Gary, and OG and some other guys too on that. And that's again, we want to kind of what we started the year envisioning that we would push with multiple guys like that once they got the board.

No I thought both Scottie and Pascal did a good job. They seemed to settle us down pretty good and get us into our sets, which was they haven't had a ton of practice out there doing that. So I think it was good for them to get some reps of that tonight.

- After so many games this season we've asked you, what can you glean from this game just based on all the guys that are in and out and all of that. Provided you're able to stay healthy here and build this and make your practice time as well, how important is this stretch simply from an evaluation standpoint, figuring out what you have, what works, what doesn't?

NICK NURSE: Yeah I mean it's really important I think, you know, just as an example, Josh, I mean, we had a kind of a walk through, shootaround practice prior to the game. It's an early start so we just go up before the game and do that. But you know, it's one of the first times where we're running our sets.

And we kind of run the same thing three times where our OG, Pascal, and Scottie all play the five, because we don't know how they're going to match up. So they've got-- and you know there are certain ways those things got to be run to make them most beneficial. If you don't, they're just going to switch them and you're not going to get anything out of that.

And if they do switch, that's fine. But you want to put the pressure on their big to switch on to your guards or whatever like that to get the matchups in your favor. So it's just advantageous for us to have that time and then to go out there and have to do it in live action. And then we'll go right back tomorrow.

One of the things we didn't do much of was run the stuff with Scottie and Pascal at the one. So that goes into the next phase of it, if that's the way we're going to end up going.

- Do have questions for you online, coach, go ahead, Lauren.

- Hey, coach, yeah I wanted to ask you about OG. I'm just wondering like have you noticed him get more comfortable using his strength to get to his spots and to stay on balance. And like has that been a focus for you guys for him offensively?

NICK NURSE: Well, he's gotten much improved. I've talked about I think the biggest improvement of his game since he's maybe joined us is his starting and ending drives. He's getting by people. And then he's getting to the end where he's getting on balance and using his balance, strength, and athleticism. And it was a kind of focal point of the game, going into the game tonight.

We wanted him, especially to take it down inside and try to put the heat on them at the rim early. We just again, I'm a little bit, I think the legs and things are coming back. And I just wanted to make a concentrated effort early to shoot some paint shots or rim shots instead of just coming down and taking the first available three.

I just think that right now, as we continue to get our legs back, we need to make sure we get our share of shots at the basket. So yes is the answer to your question. He's improved at that.

- Is the other part of him like, getting into the paint and stuff, is that just because the way you guys play, like there's mismatches all over the court? And it feels like OG will often have like a two guard on him? So is it part of wanting to kind of take advantage of that?

NICK NURSE: Yeah, I don't think it really matters. It's just more of, can we get him with the matchups. I'm not sure we got him mismatched all that much. We just were trying to get him high and wide and pitch the ball to him and telling him to play off the catch and use some of that first step quickness to get it down there.

Some of it was that, some of it was him just making a good head and shoulders move or a little in and out dribble move and doing it on his own. But just the mindset of attacking the rim was what we're really after.

- And lastly on OG, like I know you've talked about like the free throw attempts, like him getting hit a lot but just not getting sent to the line all that often. Is there anything that he can add to his game in order for him to get to the line more? Or is it just about maybe him exaggerating the contact a bit more?

NICK NURSE: No, I just think, again it's more about volume. And you know, he is big and strong. So sometimes they'll hit him and bounce off him a little bit, right? And he won't get some of those. He's only had a couple of collisions down there tonight. He got one, got two, didn't get another couple, whatever.

But I just think it's volume. You've got to keep going in there and taking the hits and maybe you can get half of them called. All right, thanks, Coach.

- [INAUDIBLE] crazy. I know a lot we've talked about Scottie's energy. But can you talk about it a little bit from the morale perspective, if you noticed it tonight. Because at one point, he was even dancing with him and Justin [INAUDIBLE].

NICK NURSE: Well, I thought in general, our team had good energy. They were really active from the bench. You know, we talk about creating our own energy because there's not any in the arena. And I thought our guys really did a good job of kind of coaching and cheerleading and just supporting each other all the way.

I would say the other night, when Scottie didn't play, he was very active and energetic on that part of it too. And you know, that's good spirit. And you know, you got to create your own fun sometimes. Right?

[INAUDIBLE]

- Hi Coach.

NICK NURSE: Hi, Takeshi.

- Thank you for your time and congratulations on the win.

NICK NURSE: Thank you.

- My question is about the Yuta game. And I don't know if you call him struggling, but I don't think he's shooting very good at the charity stripe. What do you say about that?

NICK NURSE: What did he go tonight? What did he go tonight, Takeshi? I didn't even know. One for two? No, what is he? Yeah, one for two. Well, let's put it this way. If he makes his next two, he'll be 75%. He's doing fine. We kind of got a longer rotation tonight for the first year, for the first time this year.

I think that he and Svi are utility guys. You probably noticed that I used one of them one time and then the next time around I used the other one. And Yuta got back in at the half with some foul trouble. I actually thought Yuta had a good game tonight. He only played 10 minutes but I thought he had a good game.

- OK thank you so much.

NICK NURSE: You're welcome.

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