Title: ‘Every win is the biggest win so far’: Raptors go smaller to pull out Game 6
Date: September 9, 2020
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about the Raptors turning to a small lineup to close out a double-overtime, series-saving win against the Celtics.
Nick Nurse had been trying to find an opening to go small all series.
The idea of downsizing is a complicated one for the Toronto Raptors. The primary issue is that on most nights, two of their seven best players are centres. Even if the small lineup can still be pretty big with Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby in the frontcourt, getting an extra guard or wing on the court can often mean a downgrade; the matchup advantages a lineup tweak provides have to outweigh the cost of shelving two pretty good players.
The Boston Celtics muddy those matchup advantages, making Nurse’s equation tougher. Boston welcomes teams going small, and while that’s more true with Gordon Hayward available than without him, Brad Stevens can lean on Daniel Theis to make the most of being the biggest on the floor or go to Grant Williams at centre to go small for small. Robert Williams III and Enes Kanter are really the only options it takes away for Boston, and they’re usually hoping to close with Theis and their starters, switching all over the floor, anyway.