Title: How the Raptors ‘scout team’ is adjusting to life inside the NBA’s bubble
Date: September 8, 2020
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about what life is like in the bubble amid a playoff run for the Raptors who aren’t really playing but still have important work to do.
Chris Boucher looked very well-prepared for his second window of opportunity in the series.
While he’d been only a whisper in the Toronto Raptors’ rotation plans through the first four games against the Boston Celtics, head coach Nick Nurse was looking for a spark with his team in an early hole. Boucher got the call in a hybrid starter-bench unit that had played two possessions together all year and zero so far in the postseason. Boucher is not young by prospect standards, but he remains fairly inexperienced in high-leverage situations. With his first run in several games and unfamiliar linemates – plus a shift to power forward, away from his more natural centre position – he would have been forgiven for taking a few possessions to find his footing.
Instead, Boucher looked like the readiest Raptor on the floor. Stationed in the short corner along the baseline, Boucher read the Celtics’ plan early, yelling and pointing for teammates that Jaylen Brown, not Robert Williams III, was about to go set a screen for Jayson Tatum. Meanwhile, Boucher stuck with Kemba Walker on a feigned cut and up to where Walker set a second screen for Tatum. Boucher sat back a bit, angled his body to force Tatum toward the sideline over the screen, then hung in as Tatum made a few dribble moves to no avail. Tatum settled for a pull-up 3 and Boucher, one of the league leaders in blocked 3s this season, made a strong contest to force a miss. On multiple possessions to follow, Boucher stayed with Walker on switches, either guiding him toward the baseline, where help arrived to force a kick-out, or blocking his attempt altogether.