Title: The Patrick McCaw Game (with Oshae Brissett support) helps Raptors bounce back against Celtics
Date: December 28, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about a spirited victory in Boston for the shorthanded Raptors, sparked by unlikely heroes Patrick McCaw and Oshae Brissett.
You know Patrick McCaw had an incredible night when I am not leading this story with Oshae Brissett. On a night a Raptors 905 player made a big contribution to a quality win, bumping that note to No. 2 is the highest praise I can offer. McCaw was that good.
There is also an element of mea culpa here. After Wednesday’s tough loss to the Boston Celtics, I wrote,“It is probably worth at least trying something more drastic; McCaw can be an effective rotation player but not at 32 minutes a night.” I was right in plain terms — McCaw was an effective rotation player in a different number of minutes. It just happened to be a career-high (and team-high) 43 minutes.
That McCaw barely saw the bench in a 113-97 victory over the very good Celtics — in Boston, no less, where the Celtics entered 13-1 and where the Raptors hadn’t won in over three years — highlights a few things about the game and about Nick Nurse in the larger sense. Rather than change a starting lineup that had posted a minus-13.4 net rating in 75 minutes so far, Nurse shifted the roles of the players involved, turning McCaw into more of a lead guard. The idea was to force him to be more assertive and to better leverage the team’s two best shooters, Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet, as off-ball weapons. There’s an element of risk to that, since McCaw has not played a natural point guard role often in the NBA, but having a third of the team out injured empowers a coach to embrace such risks. It’s not as if there was an obvious panacea to the starting lineup issues, and so it became a puzzle of how to fit the pieces together better rather than find an alternate piece that is the least ill-fitting.
Check it out on The Athletic.