Yuta Watanabe, Jalen Harris and unlikely groups keep Raptors close with Clippers, show growth on 1-3 trip

Title: Yuta Watanabe, Jalen Harris and unlikely groups keep Raptors close with Clippers, show growth on 1-3 trip
Date: May 4, 2021
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about a spirited losing effort with a few young contributors chipping in, which is about all you can hope for right now.

Raptors coach Nick Nurse has used so many starting lineups this season that he pre-empted yet another new one before Tuesday’s game by making the non-joke himself. It’s a curiosity, and maybe a fun piece of trivia down the line. It’s also a good snapshot of the myriad caveats the Raptors have been working within this year. For Nurse, though, it’s hard to imagine it being humourous. With their play-in hopes fading and a very good Los Angeles Clippers team in front of them, yet another spin of the lineup carousel was hardly welcome.

Nurse estimated it would be the team’s 36th or 37th different starting group this season, and he wasn’t far off. It was the 32nd, by far the franchise record at this point, which is saying quite a lot given the team’s history. Of those 32, only 12 have started multiple times. There have been only brief flickers of stability.

Here, Nurse would not have OG Anunoby to check Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Nor would he have Kyle Lowry, Gary Trent Jr., Paul Watson Jr., or Chris Boucher. What he did have was a very spirited group willing to fight from underneath as a double-digit underdog, playing the fiery babyfaces long enough to make you believe what happened Sunday — an upset of the Lakers — could turn into an L.A. sweep.

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