Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse discusses where his team lost the game, Fred VanVleet's shooting over the past few games and how the Celtics put pressure on defences.
- OK, Doug, what do you got?
DOUG: Well, you had a couple of shots there at the end. You had the three on one that got dribbled out of bounds. Then the pass in the corner when it's Stanley. Those are the kind of mistakes you can ill afford in close games like that?
NICK NURSE: Yeah, then we had Gary turning the corner for a wide open layup that rolls off the front as well. Got to make those plays. A couple other little plays. I thought we had a jump ball in the first half that we got to win. They end up hitting a 3 out of it, then we got to come up with that one way or another. And really, I thought, let me have to look at it again, but I thought the third quarter, we come out and we generated wide open shot, after wide open shot. We don't make any of them. Right, like, really good wide open shots and we just didn't shot make well enough. And again, you know, that kind of leads right to some transition and stuff. And then at the other end I thought give them credit. They made a whole bunch of look us in the eyes, totally guarded 3's in a stretch where they weren't really that open, and they knocked them down. So it was a shot making stretch, lack of at our end and a very strong by their end there that I thought opened up the game. But we had our chances tonight. I thought we did a lot of really good things defensively and stretches didn't quite get as executed as well in the second half, obviously. But again, they made a lot of those three balls came off of pretty guarded shots.
- You said before the game, you could learn something about your team and where you are vis-a-vis the Celtics. What did you learn and what do you take out of it in that regard?
NICK NURSE: Well again, I thought for the most part it was a pretty evenly played game other than what I just talked about. I just talked about I think, if we're going to get over the hump on that we need to make those three or four little plays you just talked about. We need to make a few more open shots when they're generated like that. But, you know, I thought again, we did OK as far as executing what we were trying to execute defensively for good chunks of the game, which is they're not an easy team to guard. I think they've got the number one offense in the league, but I thought we were executing pretty well and fighting pretty hard out there and playing pretty physical.
- Did you-- before the game there was a suggestion that maybe Gary was going to be in the starting five and then he was out. Was that an injury situation or--
NICK NURSE: Mm-mm.
- What was going on there?
NICK NURSE: Let's see, what was going on there? We had a late-- well, we knew Horford was out. We were trying to decide if we thought they would start Williams or Griffin. They came back, reported they were starting both of them. And so we decided with Griffin starting we would go have Christian back in there, kind of game plan that way this morning. Then they switched again I think and put White in and took somebody else. Anyway, so-- it was a tough one for you guys tonight to follow who was actually going to start, so I feel-- I really feel for you guys.
- So many erroneous tweets, it was terrible.
NICK NURSE: What else is new? Right there?
- You've been talking about Fred shots I guess the last three or four games. They've all been good looks. So then tonight he had a bunch that were--
NICK NURSE: Yeah, what'd he get tonight? Three for 14. I'd say 10 of them were probably pretty good looks. He had a couple in the lane that were a little tricky. I thought some of those were even pretty decent. He didn't-- I don't think they came off his hand great, those little eight, ten footers that he had. You're right, those were probably open as well. But I thought yeah, I thought he had some decent looks tonight.
- He certainly doesn't lack confidence in his own shooting abilities. Do you keep him-- just keep running out there, keep telling him take them whenever you got a good look at him?
NICK NURSE: Yeah, I mean, I think both him and OG really are kind of our leading shooters, right? And I thought OG had five wide open ones tonight too, right? And it's going to help us a lot when those guys kind of combine, where they go combine two for 11, and I would say most of them are pretty good ones, right? So again, that'll swing back our way, I'm sure. They're just career and their body of work of how they shoot, and statistically and stuff will swing back for us, and that'll help us.
- The other day on ABC it seemed across the board the people on the panel were saying that Tatum is the MVP of this portion of the season. Watching him tonight you can certainly see why. Does it give you encouragement to see what Pascal did, since the numbers are quite similar?
NICK NURSE: Yeah, I mean, I think first of all, I'm not that much into all that stuff. I think there's a lot of guys that have played really amazing, so I don't really know to say yeah, he is. He's got to be in the conversation, let's put it that way. And I think that in reality or when were looking at where we are and where we're going, we're going to have to have guys that can match up with him, and play him, and be up there at that level. I think that's what our goal would be, Pascal and you know, OG has got to get up to Brown's level. And you know what I'm saying? You can't be sitting here going there, we can't win any of these match ups and expect to win the game. So I thought that for a lot of years, watching that team stay together, and grow, that we've got to continue to get our guys playing at another notch, a level up to catch those guys a little bit.
- I'm sorry, go ahead, Steve.
- Whenever the game was in doubt, if you want to call it that, the same three guys that handled the ball for Boston.
NICK NURSE: Yeah.
- They went one, to the other, to the other.
NICK NURSE: Yeah, they put those three guys in a lot of multiple actions up there on the top, screen screen, hand off screen, between the three of them. And what makes it hard is they got two really-- well, one for sure, but two usually really good snipers sitting in the corner. So if something happens where they hit him on a roller and you got to pull in from the weak side to stop the play at the rim, they've got a good chance of kicking it out to a guy who's shooting probably 55 to 65 true shooting percentage from the corner. But, you know, I think that's pretty common too, right? You're going to play against late in the game. You're going to play against the two or three best guys that they got in actions all the time. And like I said, they made a bunch of look us right in the eyes, three balls, and that's good offense when those go in. That's a good offense.
- Scotty seemed pretty involved in any number of ways tonight throughout. Did you like sort of his general approach to the game?
NICK NURSE: Great, thought he was really good tonight.
- Nick, from a physical standpoint, Fred had talked about battling through an illness, do you know if there's anything that he's still dealing with, any recoveries on that front?
NICK NURSE: I don't think so. You know, it was-- we talked about it before. He had it, kind of went away, played a game, got it again. So I think that-- but I do say this, and I might have mentioned this before the game. I mean, Pascal's told me that he just isn't quite in the condition yet coming back off the injury that he hoped. He was asking me, at our last game to get more minutes so he could get back and get back to the rhythm. So again, I think that's something that will help us too when he gets all the way back to feeling as bouncy, and is in rhythm, and has the endurance to play big minutes.
- When you look at the past week, I mean, sorry.
NICK NURSE: Go ahead.
- The two horses on the road, the fall of your opponent here tonight, is it-- how do you kind of look past the wins and losses, and keep optimistic, or be sure that you're trending in the right direction?
NICK NURSE: Well, I mean, I'm always going to be concerned with are we playing good basketball, right? And I think that certainly played good basketball in our last game. We played good basketball tonight, and we had a couple of really bad quarters in the other games, which we didn't play very good at all. And that's again, we're just kind of striving for a little more consistency, a little bit more building and trending in the right direction of playing good basketball. I mean, that was there to be had tonight, right? We didn't make the plays probably. We made the ball bounce the wrong direction a couple of times, right, on some of those little passes. They're just unfortunate plays and stuff, but that's it. And it just got to hope play good, play hard, continue to tweak and improve, and the rest of it takes care of itself.
- When you look at Boston, obviously they're extremely talented, but how much of that do you think their success, especially with those three core guys, is just from years of playing together and chemistry developed?
NICK NURSE: Yeah, I mean, I think that a couple of things. I think that they've got that, right? That's something. They're, all three of them, are very good two way players. Even though you know them, you don't think Smart, I mean Smart every game seems to make huge buckets, right? He'll drive you. He'll shoot, again, shoot you the three right in your face. And they all three are really good defenders too, right? So it's not like you are able to-- you don't really want to go at them at the other end that much either. So that's one thing. I think they have developed skill wise. You know, I don't-- this is the most I've seen, and you guys can look it up, I'm probably might be wrong, but high volume of 3's that Tatum's taking this season and Brown as well, it's got to be-- it doesn't have to be, but I would guess it's their highest ever. And they're shooting a super high percentage. So that wasn't always the case that they would come out and go five for ten. The last game Brown went five for 11. You know, one of them goes, that's kind of going, making that many. So like I said before the game, they got a really good ability to play a one on one at both ends. That's what makes them tough.