Nick Nurse is brutally honest about Toronto’s recent play

The Toronto Raptors are 1-4 in their last five games and are now back to the .500 mark, a position they have hovered over all season. Those are facts, but facts without context are not particularly poignant. Would discourage anyone who wants to categorize the Raptors as a legitimately good team amid the recent struggles to test actual games.

Aside from the odd loss to the Detroit Pistons, which Toronto lost to 16, each of these losses was by five points or less. Indeed, the Raptors fought to the teeth against the Phoenix Suns (Western lead), Miami Heat (an Eastern Conference candidate) and Dallas Mavericks (won 10 of their last 11 games), against some of the league’s elite teams. They had a fantastic win over Giannis Antetokounmpo and the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks on the road.

“Hardly any team goes to these places and wins,” head coach Nick Nurse said after Wednesday’s road loss to the Mavericks. “I think we are improving a lot, we are playing hard. We needed one of those open Tuesdays to go and we could have snuck out of there with one. “

Expectations have varied widely for the Raptors before and during the season, but most agree they are not aiming for the same goals as those clubs. It shouldn’t be surprising, there’s no need to roll your eyes at the results of games against championship contenders like championship contenders and playoff-determined teams. On the pragmatic side, Toronto digging into its heels and nearly stealing matches against top opponents should excite everyone.

Not to mention that all this is happening with many key members of the rotation unable to fit together. The loss of Gary Trent Jr., Khem Birch, and Yuta Watanabe (who have resumed operations after exiting health and safety protocols), significantly speaking, and the resulting consequences (such as: those who started playing the hard minutes) as well.

“Our boys played a really good game,” Nurse said of his team’s 102-98 defeat to Dallas. “I don’t know why I feel so much negativity here from everyone, but our boys played their best here tonight against a team that has gone 10-1 in the last 11 games. their best”.

Understandably, however, when a team that close to the winning games, there will be a lot of shoulda, woulda, coulda conversation. Should Scottie Barnes protect Luka Doncic more closely before he bury three daggers? It’s correct. Would the Raptors get more wins in these games if they were at all healthy? Likely. Could it be that Nurse took advantage of more available spins? He may have.

Finally, Fred VanVleet’s adage repeats: “How it is”.

At this point, the Raptors are an injured, young, thin team on the edge with a extremely impressive core that’s been up against some of the best the league has to offer (mostly on the road), despite it all — and we’ll try to keep that in mind.

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James Brien

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