Nick Nurse is the best coach in the NBA, full stop.
Nurse was nominated as one of three finalists for the media’s NBA Coach of the Year, and it is well deserved. He has deftly guided the Raptors to the East’s second-best record, with a mix of game planning, in-game adjustments and player loyalty.
Some have compared Nurse to the New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick for his in-game adjustments. He is like few coaches in the NBA at adjusting to the flow of the game and putting the right matchups together.
The Raptors are 14th in offensive rating and second in defensive rating. The offence is fine, but it is the defence that makes them a legitimate contender; they say defence wins championships, which will get tested in today’s 3-point happy NBA.
Last season, when the Raptors won the championship, they were powered by the fifth-ranked defence. It was the swarming and relentless defence that won the title.
Admittedly, Kawhi Leonard was a big part of that. However, the team has more than picked up his slack on the defensive end and is even better than last season.
There probably isn’t a worse matchup for LeBron James and the Lakers. This was evidenced by the Raptors shutting King James down in the opening seeding round game.
That is what Nurse and his defence do. They take away what you do best.
The Raptors did it with a box and one strategy to slow Steph Curry down in last year’s Finals. They also did it in last year’s East Final against Antetonkoumpo.
The Greek Freak pushed them around in Games 1 and 2 before Nurse adjusted, stuck Leonard on him, and the Raptors won four straight. OG Anunoby will likely be the one called on to shadow Antetonkoumpo if they meet in the playoffs.