The Toronto Raptors will host Nick Nurse, now the head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, for the first time as an enemy after a five-year run that is more successful than any other in franchise history. Because of Nurse, Toronto can look at its own Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Nurse’s tenure ended on a rotten note. He failed to win a non-bubble playoff series in any of his final four campaigns in charge of Toronto, missed the playoffs twice, and played a big part in some behind-the-scenes friction that ultimately led to Darko Rajakovic coming in as a replacement.
While it may have been time for both parties to move on for greener pastures, it’s still sad to see the best coach Toronto ever knew wearing 76ers blue and helping Joel Embiid try to defend his MVP trophy. Nurse did so much good for this franchise, and it would be unfair to remember him in a poor light.
While Nurse wasn’t perfect, as every Raptors fan had their pain points with him, the overwhelming consensus on his tenure in Toronto was that of respect and admiration. No matter how well Rajakovic does, Nurse will be missed dearly north of the border.
2 things Toronto Raptors fans will miss about Nick Nurse, 1 they won’t
Will Miss: Playing well against the best
While Nurse didn’t have the deepest rosters during the last few seasons of his Toronto tenure, that never stopped him from getting the troops rallied and motivated to take on some of the best teams in the league and come out of these matchups smelling like a rose.
While Nurse’s more recent Raptors teams had a problem with playing down to their competition, they could take down teams like Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Bucks and Jimmy Butler’s Heat with some regularity. Nurse’s wild style of coaching likely had something to do with that.
Nick Nurse helped the Toronto Raptors pull off upsets.
Organized chaos was the name of the game, and that philosophy forced Antetokounmpo into some odd turnovers and helped grind those elite teams into submission. It’s that style that helped make him such an effective and long-lasting (for this franchise, at least) coach.
It remains to be seen if Rajakovic, who had some clumsy late-game execution in a loss against the Bulls, will have the same success when punching up alongside many of the same players Nurse had. It’s not an indictment on Rajakovic if he isn’t as skilled here, as Nurse was uncommonly good as an underdog in Toronto.