Nick Nurse joining 76ers as coach fuels Raptors-Philly rivalry

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 07: Head coach Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 07: Head coach Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors believed that the Nick Nurse era had run its course after a disappointing season in 2022-23, as they won just 41 games and missed the playoffs one season after they won 48 games and gave the Philadelphia 76ers everything they could handle in their postseason series.

Nurse did not wait long to find his next job, however. After pulling himself out of the race to become the next head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks, Nurse found himself landing one of the premier jobs in the NBA after the 76ers parted ways with fellow champion Doc Rivers.

Nurse has been named the next head coach of the 76ers, giving him the responsibility of coaching Joel Embiid and helping a team that has flamed out in the second round of the postseason. Perhaps Nurse’s tweaking will help this roster more than the likes of Rivers could.

The Raptors and 76ers have had a very rich rivalry history over the last few years, with the Embiid years standing out as the zenith of this historic clash. With Nurse defecting and taking the Philly job, the bad blood between these two organizations will only grow.

Former Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse hired by 76ers.

Nurse and 76ers mastermind Daryl Morey have some history together, as the pair worked together with the Houston Rockets during Nurse’s stint as coach of the G League Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Bringing a proven winner with a ring to Philly seemed like an obvious move to make.

However, as Raptors fans can attest to, Nurse comes with some maddening shortfalls that 76ers fans may not be aware of. While his penchant for leaning on his stars too much is known in all corners of the NBA world, his (at times) prickly personality and combativeness can rub some players the wrong way.

The 76ers have questions themselves, as James Harden is a free agent and Embiid’s postseason struggles bring into question the idea of building another incarnation of this team around him. Morey seems to love him, and he thinks Nurse is the edge they need to get ahead in the East.

If Nurse clicks, it is not unreasonable to suggest that he could end up with a second ring on his hand. If he doesn’t, the 76ers might be doing this coaching charade again in the next few seasons. Regardless of what happens, the rivalry between Philadelphia and Toronto has only become more vicious and contested.

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