The Toronto Raptors welcomed home an old friend in rival colors for the first time, as Nick Nurse came back to Canada as the head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers. With Joel Embiid ready to dominate against a beat-up roster, the stage was set for Nurse to pick up his first Philly win against his old team.
Darko Rajakovic’s team pulled off yet another Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde act, as they went from scoring 36 first-quarter points while dominating from beyond the 3-point like to conceding a 13-2 run to begin the third quarter that ultimately dug their grave.
Toronto fell to 1-2 on the young season with a 114-107 home loss against an unstoppable combination of Embiid and Tyrese Maxey. The first few games of the season are always good for exposing a team’s issues, and Toronto’s warts are looking clearer by the day.
Nurse’s 76ers showed just how streaky the Raptors are, going from a team that was lighting Philadelphia up to a complete tire fire that couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat. This issue needs to be corrected moving forward if Toronto wants any chance of staying competitive.
Toronto Raptors’ loss to Nick Nurse, 76ers shows the team’s lack of consistency.
The Raptors’ inability to pick a direction has made this run of streakiness even more challenging to assess. Should this be seen as a veteran team struggling as they adjust to a new offense, or the byproduct of letting young players figure things out in the name of development?
The volatility seems to be equal parts on coaching and the players themselves. While Rajakovic can let some lineups run for too long and let runs spiral out of control, players are often bricking wide-open shots. What can Darko do in that scenario?
This was not the game for Toronto to fix these issues in. On top of the added pressure brought on by the Nurse return and the stress Embiid puts on a team, Toronto is playing on the second night of a back-to-back following a messy, ugly overtime loss against a beatable Chicago Bulls team without star forward OG Anunoby.
The Raptors have shown many positive signs in their first three games, as Scottie Barnes looks much improved, Gradey Dick showed why he was picked as highly as he was, and Dennis Schroder continued his solid run of form from FIBA play. Until Toronto can get some consistency, however, positivity could be in short supply.