Raptors closing options: What will the final five look like in tight games?

Title: Raptors closing options: What will the final five look like in tight games?
Date: December 4, 2020
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I broke down the closing lineup options for the Raptors when the game is on the line.

A lot will be made in the coming weeks about who will start for the Toronto Raptors. Even with more presumptive favourites, and a fairly undramatic battle for the fifth spot, head coach Nick Nurse will still be asked. Nurse will speak about valuing flexibility, about wanting his players to be comfortable starting or coming off the bench, and about having six or seven guys he considers starters.

The evidence from the past two years suggests that when everyone is healthy, Nurse will stick with what works. But everyone won’t be healthy, and that will inject some turnover in the starting lineup to get players comfortable operating in a few different ways. Different data is always the silver lining.

Of more interest will be who Nurse turns to at the end of games. Starting lineup decisions are about maximizing the roster for the entire 48 minutes, not just those first six or seven minutes of each half. You want a good lineup out there to start, and it’s often your best one, but your closing lineup should be based upon higher-leverage criteria. Once the game is in the balance, there is no 48-minute window to consider. Get the win and go home.

That group could change night-to-night based on who is playing well, and most importantly, who the team is playing against. What follows is a look through the options Nurse could consider on a given night.

Continue reading.

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