3 genius adjustments from Nick Nurse that saved Raptors season

CLEVELAND, OHIO - MARCH 06: Scottie Barnes #4 listens to head coach Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OHIO - MARCH 06: Scottie Barnes #4 listens to head coach Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors, Chris Boucher
PHOENIX, ARIZONA – MARCH 11: Chris Boucher #25 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Kelsey Grant/Getty Images) /

Nick Nurse and the Toronto Raptors may have cooled off after a fantastic West Coast road trip, but the fact that this team is still firmly in the play-in picture at the No. 7 seed stands as a testament to the work Nurse has done this year. This young squad continues to piece together wins.

Things haven’t always gone so smoothly. Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby have both missed time due to injuries, the team has lacked rim protection all season long, and some lackluster guard depth has made it tough to stay in games. Nevertheless, the team continues to persist.

The Raptors are as willing as any team in the league to concoct some truly funky lineup combinations to throw opponents off balance. Nurse’s reputation as a master tinkerer and adapter has grown this season, as he’s been able to keep Toronto stable amid some chaos.

These three moves stand out as the most impactful that Nurse has made during his Raptors tenure. Winning games in an Eastern Conference that is deeper than it has ever been is no easy task, but Nurse is helping Toronto gradually achieve that goal this season.

3 moves Nick Nurse made to boost the Toronto Raptors

3. Playing Chris Boucher at center less often

Boucher was a sensational small-ball center for Toronto last year, but Nurse was forced to move him around a bit due to some new frontcourt additions. After a very tough start, Boucher has morphed back into the same player that nearly took home a Sixth Man of the Year award last year.

Per Cleaning The Glass (subscription required), only 40% of Boucher’s minutes have come at the five-spot this year. Considering he was playing center at 79% last year (a year in which he was one of the top Sixth Men in the East, mind you), this had to be a fairly tough choice to make.

Toronto Raptors: Chris Boucher is thriving at power forward

Boucher is still crashing the offensive glass with regularity, as evidenced by yet another double-double in a win against the 76ers. However, due to his stringy frame, letting players like Precious Achiuwa and Khem Birch handle center duties has helped Boucher’s talents flourish.

While Boucher is an impending free agent, he has been so effective that it would be very hard to envision a scenario in which he is not retained for 2022-23 and beyond. Nurse benched Boucher for performance earlier in the year, and that seems to have lit the flame still burning inside him.