Nick Nurse should not consider changing Raptors starting lineup

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 01: Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 01: Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors found out just how fleeting momentum in the NBA can be. Just a few days after seeing an eight-game winning streak snapped, Nick Nurse has now lost two straight games. The Raptors were thoroughly pummeled by the New Orleans Pelicans in a 30-point loss.

A lineup that features Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. in the backcourt alongside the versatile trio of OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, and Pascal Siakam mixing and matching in the frontcourt has carried Toronto this season. Unfortunately, Denver and New Orleans found some cracks in the Raptors’ armor.

Both of these teams are bad matchups for Toronto, as they had the luxury of leaning on a massive 7-foot center in league MVP Nikola Jokic or former Raptors big Jonas Valanciunas. Nurse is considering altering that formation whenever they face a skilled center.

Nurse said he is evaluating the idea of moving one of his starters to the bench in favor of using either Khem Birch or Precious Achiuwa as a starter. While they might add more traditional size in this alignment, it wouldn’t necessarily be conducive to helping the Raptors win games.

Nick Nurse shouldn’t switch the Toronto Raptors’ lineup.

Did Nurse just forget that this starting lineup helped him win eight straight games, including victories against big men like Bam Adebayo, Nikola Vucevic, and Clint Capela? Is he really willing to scrap that and give some of his starters a reduced role after just two games, one of which he lost by one point?

Siakam, Anunoby, and VanVleet are not leaving the starting lineup, meaning the only likely candidates to see reduced time are Trent and Barnes. While either of them getting tons of shots with the second unit could be appealing, Nurse would be misguided if he decides to pull the trigger.

If he looks at the state of the Raptors and decides that giving either Birch and Achiuwa more minutes at the expense of a Rookie of the Year candidate in Barnes or a guy who was averaging nearly 28 points per game from January 25 to February 10 in Trent, that’s an egregious miscalculation.

With Siakam doing a fine job at center for the time being, Nurse needs to stay the course and keep this lineup together.

If you have a problem with the lack of a true seven-foot center or some iffy backup point guard depth, that is an issue you need to take up with Masai Ujiri and the front office. The team is not perfect, but they have fantastic starters, and Nurse should lean on them as much as possible.

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