Title: Raptors need to prove flexibility is more than just a preseason talking point after Game 2 loss to 76ers
Date: April 29, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic, I wrote about the Raptors failing to live up to their self-proclaimed identity of flexibility so far in the playoffs, as rotation rigidity cost them in Game 2 against the 76ers.
As far back as Summer League, Nick Nurse has preached experimentation and flexibility. This was before the Raptors furnished their new head coach with Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, and before they threw Marc Gasol into the mix for good measure. In a sweaty high school gym in Las Vegas, Nurse questioned aloud why a team should stick to a certain starting five all year, or why their defence had to conform to one standard definition, or why a team’s identity couldn’t be a little more fluid. Even if the Raptors were going to look the same, they could make themselves more dynamic.
And then the franchise-altering trade came, which armed the team even better for that line of thinking. The addition of Gasol and emergence of Pascal Siakam locked in an eventual starting unit – no matter what lip service or early platooning the team may have given Serge Ibaka – but made the team no less pliable. As load management and injuries to key players and roster reconstruction took their toll, the Raptors had no choice but to stick and move with whatever lineups and rotations were available each night.
Everything had been talked up – and played out – like the Raptors should be able to avoid the pitfalls of rigidity from prior postseasons. Through seven playoff games, that hasn’t been the case.