Toronto Raptors: Latest rotations from Nick Nurse are simply unacceptable

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11: Head coach Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11: Head coach Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors hit a major bump in the road on Saturday against the New York Knicks, as awful perimeter defense helped a poor shooting team absolutely dice Toronto up from the 3-point line. Head coach Nick Nurse should by no means be excluded from the blame here, as he made some minor tweaks to the rotation that turned out horribly.

With the return to Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet to the lineup, the backcourt was the group that received the biggest facelift, as star acquisition Gary Trent Jr. and improving young point guard Malachi Flynn saw their minutes evaporate in order to make room for the Lowry/VanVleet tag team.

Nurse also had to figure out how to reshape the frontcourt minutes allotment, as he was playing this game without star reserve Chris Boucher due to his knee injury. He chose to solve this problem by…doing nothing! Khem Birch and Freddie Gillespie played nearly the same amount of time as they did before Boucher got hurt.

Right after settling on a rotation that works, Nurse had to go mess things up by not adequately divvying up minutes against the Knicks. If this way of thinking continues, don’t be surprised if Nurse and the Raptors start to slide in the standings.

Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse messed with the rotations.

Trent has been scoring over 20 points regularly while playing over 30 minutes on a nightly basis. he has been on the floor for just 32 minutes total in the last two games, amassing just nine total points. Trent isn’t the only player that Nurse has inexplicably put handcuffs on, as Flynn was on the floor for just six minutes days after starting.

Stanley Johnson has been putrid at times for the Raptors this season, but it would make sense to give him a bit of extra run now that Boucher is injured and both Birch and Gillespie are complete non-shooters. Instead of that, Nurse played Birch for most of the game and only gave Gillespie 13 minutes of time, which the Knicks exploited.

We love Lowry and VanVleet, and we know how great they can be, but taking Trent, who needs time to get in a rhythm and make shots to contribute on offense, and cutting his playing time in half while almost benching Flynn seems like a bit of an overreaction. Choosing to replace Boucher’s minutes by doing nothing comes off as another unusual choice.

The idea of making Trent the team’s sixth man for the playoff run isn’t inherently a bad idea, but this is not the way to do it. Nurse needs to create a more equitable distribution of minutes that gives his parade of scorers time to operate, and a failure to accomplish this goal could lead to Toronto slipping out of the play-in tournament picture.

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