3. Nurse’s defence needs to step up
There is a reason why Nurse was named the NBA Coach of the Year for the 2019-20 season.
Even with the departures of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, the Raptors found a way to improve especially on the defensive side of the game. It was a major factor in their ability to lockdown on a opposition’s best player.
OG Anunoby has been Nurse’s go-to defender because of all the different traits he possesses including; quickness, strength and length. It is likely that Anunoby will be guarding Jayson Tatum for most of this series which is not an easy task for any defender but the key will be to ensure that nothing comes easy.
The Raptors ability to force turnovers and transition offensively all runs through the aggressiveness of their defence. This led to them having the best defensive rating when the NBA returned with a 102.7 rating.
Expect Nurse to force mismatches so that the offence doesn’t run through Tatum or Kemba Walker as much as they probably will like. If not, this series will be a tough one for the Raptors to win.
Sure, Fred VanVleet has been hitting another gear which was on full display against Brooklyn, this is not the same matchup. If they cannot work their defensive identity in this series, they might see themselves coming up short against a team that has yet to fulfill their potential in the playoffs.
What do you think about the upcoming matchup against the Celtics? Can the Raptors pull it off? What will be the keys for them? Let us know in the comments below.