The smaller lineups that Raptors coach Nick Nurse experimented with Friday could become permanent, writes Steven Loung of Sportsnet. Toronto picked up just its second win of the season as center Alex Len started for the first time since joining the team, taking the place of Aron Baynes. However most of the playing time in the middle went to Chris Boucher, with OG Anunoby filling in there as well.
Baynes has been “underachieving” since signing with the Raptors in the offseason, according to Loung. The veteran center is averaging just 5.3 points and 5.7 rebounds through his first seven games. Nurse liked how the smaller group responded and indicated that he may stick with it.
“I think the biggest thing is playing small, it does a number of things for us, but the biggest thing it does for us is it enables us to switch all the pick-and-rolls which, late in games, that’s going down pretty much at both ends, it’s pick-and-roll basketball,” Nurse said. “And then secondly, it almost puts OG and Pascal (Siakam) in the handling and screening situations, which, you know, OG is a good screener and finisher in that stuff.”
There’s more on the Raptors:
- Friday marked the second start of the season for shooting guard Norman Powell, Loung adds in the same story. Powell scored 22 points while filling in for Kyle Lowry, who missed the game for personal reasons. “Yeah, I would. I would,” Nurse responded when asked whether he would consider making Powell a full-time starter. “He’s had two really good games as a starter and I would hate to count how many not-so-good games coming off the bench. So I would consider that at this point.”
- Lowry’s absence gave rookie point guard Malachi Flynn his first chance at extended playing time, notes Chris O’Leary of NBA.com. Flynn, who showed promise during the preseason, responded with 12 points, five rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes. “I’m going to stay confident regardless, but having a game like this definitely helps,” Flynn said. “So just continue to have that mindset of being confident and hopefully have more games like this.”
- The Raptors won’t have fans at their temporary home in Tampa, Florida, until at least February 5, according to The Associated Press. Vinik Sports Group, which owns Amalie Arena, made the announcement today because COVID-19 cases in the region have “risen sharply.”