Five takeaways from Toronto Raptors opening day victory over Pelicans

Toronto Raptors - Fred VanVleet (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Fred VanVleet (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Pascal Siakam (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Toronto plays only eight players

Nick Nurse regularly went 10-deep during last year’s regular season. Even during the playoffs, he would try to force a ninth man into the rotation. Jodie Meeks and Patrick McCaw were playing meaningful postseason minutes because Nurse wanted to play multiple guys and keep players rested.

So when the Toronto Raptors decided to play just eight players in game one of what’s going to be a tremendously long regular season, it was a bit of a surprise. The starters, Norman Powell, Serge Ibaka, and Terence Davis, saw the floor. No one else.

That means no Rondae Hollis-Jefferson or Stanley Johnson. The two combo-forwards appear to be in Nick Nurse’s doghouse after he publicly called them out after a less than stellar preseason. Nurse cited a lack of defensive focus and said both would need to earn their playing time. One game into the season, it appears those were not false threats.

Several other players did not see the court as well, Chris Boucher, Malcolm Miller, Dewan Hernandez. However, it’s Johnson’s absence which is the most notable. — Patrick McCaw and Hollis-Jefferson sat out game one with due to injury.

Tonight’s game was a warning shot more than it was an indication of what will happen the rest of the year as the Raptors can’t play eight guys all year. However, consider it an effective shot across the bow. Nurse isn’t going to play guys who don’t deserve it.