Nick Nurse and the Toronto Raptors have limped through some very poor performances this season, but the unusual circumstances surrounding this season assuredly have something to do with this. Not only are the Raptors playing in Florida and just getting over some issues with COVID-19, but they lost top assistant coach Chris Finch.
Finch was going to be Nurse’s right-hand man this season, as his experience as an assistant coach under Mike D’Antoni in Houston and Alvin Gentry in New Orleans gave him the privilege of being tutored by two of the top offensive minds in basketball today.
Unfortunately, instead of helping the Raptors figure out what went wrong in a very challenging month of March, Finch left to become the new head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Toronto’s record with him as compared to their mark without him is staggering.
The Raptors have won just four games since February 22, when Finch took the Minnesota job. Finch’s 5-13 record may not seem impressive, but he is blowing the job Ryan Saunders did over there out of the water.
Watching Finch start to turn Minnesota around has to get Raptors fans irritated.
The Toronto Raptors haven’t looked as sharp without Chris Finch
While the defense, or lack thereof, has obviously been the main takeaway from the Finch-less Raptors, their offense is averaging 110 points per game, a number that is markedly less than what they were achieving prior to that.
Toronto’s offense, which is supposed to be the engine that drives this team, has fallen down to 16th in the NBA. Those numbers include their 130-77 domination of the Golden State Warriors.
March was marked by some blown leads late and an inability to finish. It doesn’t take a genius to see where points, and wins, are being left on the floor without Finch.
Former Toronto Raptors assistant Chris Finch has turned Minnesota around
Even without D’Angelo Russell, Minnesota has morphed from unwatchable dreck to an entertaining, if still not amazing, team. Karl-Anthony Towns is his usual amazing self, while Anthony Edwards has become a true Rookie of the Year contender.
Since Finch took over, Edwards has been averaging nearly 24 points per game, and his shooting percentages have increased.
If only we could’ve seen Finch work his magic on Gary Trent Jr.
Is Finch responsible for bad COVID-19 luck, players missing wide-open shots, and the complete lack of a pulse on the bench? No. However, Toronto has seen plenty of leads slip away of late, and Finch’s offensive mind on the bench might’ve helped draw up a winning paly or two.
Excessive turnover is almost always detrimental to winning, but excessive turnover during the middle of a season with no home games is absolutely fatal