This is the worst that we have seen the Toronto Raptors since the 2012-2013 season. That was the last time that the Raptors didn’t make the playoffs. Since then, Toronto has been one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference record wise. They have finished no lower than fourth in the conference during that stretch. Toronto also won the title in 2019 with first year head coach Nick Nurse. The Raptors also went all in on a trade when they acquired Kawhi Leonard from the Spurs. It worked out as the Raptors won their only title in franchise history with Kawhi on the team.
After their first title run, Kawhi left to go to the Clippers and people were wondering what was going to happen to this Raptors team. Last season they finished with a better record than most people thought they would have without Kawhi on their team. They steam rolled over the Brooklyn Nets as they swept Brooklyn. Then they took on the Celtics in the second round, and things fell apart quickly. This team hasn’t been the same since that playoff series against the Celtics and here is what has happened since they lost in seven games to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.
2020-2021 Season So Far:
The Raptors started off winning one out of their first seven games. They haven’t really been over .500 at all this season. 16-15 is the best record that this team has had this season. Since they were 16-15 by the way, the Raptors are 2-13. Now we have to dive into what really happened this season. Who is to blame for this team not performing up to the standards that they have been since the 2013-2014 season. There is some serious concern on if Toronto will be the same again after what has happened. Let us talk about the two components that hasn’t been working this season for the Raptors.
1.) Nick Nurse
Nick Nurse has been one of the best coaches since he became a head coach in the NBA. That has not been the case so far in the 2020-2021 season. Nurse in my opinion has been one of the worst coaches this season. He doesn’t have any control of his locker room and it has shown so far this season. When you have a guy like Kawhi Leonard leading the charge obviously you don’t have to coach much. Last season we saw him do an exceptional job, heck he won coach of the year last season.
This season though he is no where near the level that he once was at. Nurse has failed to make adjustments from time to time and boy has that hurt the Raptors this season. I understand they had a covid issue where key players were out, but this team should be a lot better than they have been this season. Whether it is because they aren’t playing at home or due to how weird this season has been as a whole. Nick Nurse does not deserve a pass here, and we need to start thinking about the direction of this franchise.
2.) Pascal Siakam
Siakam has not been the same since that playoff series against the Celtics. It seems like the Celtics figured out how to stop Siakam so bad that everybody in the league picked up on it. Pascal has looked like a shell of himself at points this season. As of late he has started to look like the Siakam we have seen in the past couple of seasons. The fact of the matter is that it might be too late for Toronto to make a run. With Siakam not playing at all-star level it is hard for this team to flourish.
Pascal Siakam has also had issues with head coach Nick Nurse as well this season. Nurse has sit Siakam in key points of games and that doesn’t sit well with Siakam. In Cleveland, Nurse took out Siakam and Pascal had some choice words for him. It escalated in the locker room and teammates had to seperate the two of them. It doesn’t look like these two will be together much longer in my opinion.
This team needs a mini reset this off season. With Kyle Lowry hitting the free agent market, you have a big decision to make this summer. If you are the Raptors you have to answer the following question. Who do we roll with moving forward Siakam or Nurse? The way that this team looks right now, it is slowly becoming inevitable that one of them will not be with the team next season. The return for Siakam could be huge depending on what teams would be interested in him. On the coaching side of things, I could see a bunch of coaches wanting to take over with this roster if Nurse were to leave. Either way we will see a change this summer in Toronto, but hopefully if you are a Raptors fan that this stinking thing that is happening is only temporary.
-Chris Jones (@cjoneswho1212)
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