Nick Nurse: Ball didn’t bounce our way, we could’ve won games in the Finals

2020-10-16T12:35:50+00:00 2020-10-16T12:35:50+00:00.

Stefan Djordjevic

16/Oct/20 12:35

Nick Nurse talked about the Raptors’ season, why a lot of players got better during the hiatus, gaining respect as the coach, how hard the NBA really is, and what international players bring to the table

By Stefan Djordjevic /

The 2019 NBA champion with the Toronto Raptors in coach Nick Nurse joined Fran Fraschilla on the “World of Basketball” podcast to talk about various topics including this year’s playoffs.

Nurse believes the series against Boston could’ve gone either way and that Raptors would’ve been competitive in the Finals as well, had they advanced that far.

“You need the ball to bounce your way. It didn’t quite get there this year, got to one possession really. I don’t think we played as well as we could’ve. I certainly don’t want to discredit how Boston played and how well-coached they were and they’re good. I think the teams were very similar and the series played out that way. There’s not much I would’ve done differently. A couple of our guys didn’t play to their capabilities and if they would’ve, heck, we could’ve been finishing our season this last week. We could’ve won some games in the Finals.”

There was much talk about the hiatus and if the long break helped the players or not, but the coach thinks it’s evident a lot of them got better. “With a focused kind of atmosphere – no travel, no games – it was like summer, even longer, probably even more time to get better without any distractions because you weren’t allowed to move around. A lot of guys got better and a lot of coaches as well.”

He also talked about the fact that a large amount of coaching is more than just basketball knowledge and gaining authority and respect is the key.

“The X’s and O’s are about 15% of the job. It’s a really important 15%. I think that, in my career, there was a number of times I walked up in front of a team whether it was England, Belgium, G League or even the Raptors where most of the team is asking: ‘Who the hell is this guy?’ And those X’s and O’s better be pretty sharp because that’s how you’re going to gain some trust and open up the communication. Developing chemistry, shaping roles, motivational side, sports psychology side, human performance side. I really try to dig in in all those,” he said and added.

“When you walk up in front of the team for your first scouting report, I’m not sure the attention is great or the focus is great. But they want to be coached, they want a plan, they want you to put them in a position to succeed and if you do that, you’re going to gain some respect and start developing those relationships.”

The Raptors expert explained that while the fans aren’t aware of it, every single game in the NBA is a challenge: “Everybody’s good. Every team is good, even the teams that aren’t in contention are hard to beat. ‘Oh, the East is weak’… People don’t know what they’re talking about. Late in the year, the teams out of the race are the hardest to beat because all their guys are playing for contracts. You’ve got to bring something every night in order to get the ‘W’.”

Nurse was coaching across the globe, including England, Belgium, G League and his experience with international players thought him to respect the originality they bring.

“What they bring is some originality, some difference, the totality of the world I think is awesome. It’s one of the things I love about Toronto – such an international city. You can see the whole world walking down the street here and I think it’s cool the NBA fans can see it too.”

Take a listen to the full interview as Nick Nurse also talked about his book called “Rapture”, his road to becoming a coach, how he got to England multiple times, growing up in Iowa, Phil Jackson, the bubble and more.

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