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Nick Nurse: Trust, but verify

Good news guys. OHIP or whoever is in charge of running my local walk-in clinic has embraced technology. Right next to the counter I found something resembling a vending machine where I had to enter my health card number and it booked me an appointment with a promise to send me a text when it was my turn. I did all that and stood there with a “Thank you” message flashing at me wondering at the marvels of technology. I was about to turn around and go stroll a strip mall but something caused me to pause and a voice in my head said, “Don’t trust this thing”. As a man on the wrong side of thirty but on the right one of forty I wondered if this was the age where I start distrusting technology. Is this my “I’d rather use my chequebook thank you very much” moment, or was this skepticism warranted?

The strip mall can wait. I went back in line and waited until I got to the front and asked them to check whether the machine had properly booked my appointment. Turns out it had recorded my appointment. However, when I was registering it had asked me to select a doctor from the three available and I picked the one which had the least amount of patients waiting in line to see. That doctor wasn’t in until 4 hours later and the people ahead of me were there to see him as a specialist whereas all I needed as an antibiotic. And at that moment I was reminded of the old Russian proverb:

Trust, but verify.

Nick Nurse may be adopting a similar tactic with his lineups. I have enjoyed his ruthless approach to substitutions of struggling players. In games with little margin of error Nurse has given enough rope to players so they’ve had an opportunity to prove whether they’re impactful on the evening. However, if results aren’t there he’s been quick to hook them in favor of what’s working now. He trusted Danny Green to start in Game 6 but once he struggled, took him out for good. Ibaka met the same fate on a couple of occasions. The same with Fred when he was struggling. He hasn’t made starting lineup changes as a reaction to what happened in the game before, and has shown trust in his lineup. But if they’re not pulling their weight, change is quick to come. This proactive approach to management is welcome in these spaces.

His handling of Kyle Lowry’s fifth foul was masterful in Game 1. He took him out knowing full well that he needed Lowry late on when the pressure surges. Not that he expected Lowry to take on scoring loads but he knew he needed him to provide the stability and support that’s required that late on. He reintroduced Lowry at 2:35 after taking him out at 8:11, judging correctly that was just enough time remaining where Lowry doesn’t have to sacrifice his tenacity and aggressiveness and can still be “himself”. Because when Lowry’s mind is trying to not risk a foul, his effectiveness halves.

His use of a timeout at 4:42 with a 12 point lead was also an excellent decision. Too often we see timeouts being called in response to an opponent run. Those are reactive. Calling a timeout when things are going good is a sound verification strategy to ensure his team’s not getting complacent or stepping off the peddle. Of course, he trusts them to not do that. But he’s done well to verify.

Doc Rivers got fined $50K for tampering. When you read his comments they seem pretty benign:

“He is the most like Jordan that we’ve seen,” Rivers said after Magic Johnson, the Lakers’ former president of basketball operations, talked about Leonard on Tuesday’s preview show. “Like, there’s a lot of great players. LeBron [James] is phenomenal. KD [Kevin Durant] is phenomenal. But he is the most like him. Big hands. Post game. Can finish. Great leaper. Great defender. In-between game. If you beat him to the spot, bumps you off. Then you add his 3-point shooting. I never get into who’s the best player. Magic is the best player, Michael Jordan is the best player, LeBron. But it’s that same group.”

To me that seems like a normal response to a question asked in an analysis show. Even if you did judge him to tamper, what does a 50K fine really say? If you want to set a precedent, set it by slapping a $250k fine and I guarantee that nobody will pipe up.

What did look shady was the Clippers trying to acquire Leonard’s logo from Nike, which would enable them to use it potentially as a bargaining chip.  

The Los Angeles Clippers are said to have quietly looked into the feasibility of purchasing the portion of the rights to Leonard’s “Klaw” logo that is still owned by Nike. The Clippers did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday, but such an acquisition would theoretically enable them to bestow full control of the logo upon Leonard as part of their anticipated free-agency pitch meeting with the Toronto superstar.

Forget for a moment that the financial outlay necessary to complete this kind of purchase, by any team, would most likely be considered a salary-cap violation. Let’s also briefly tune out that Nike, as emphasized to me recently by a top official from the sportswear giant, is intent on rebuffing all approaches and retaining its rights to that logo for as long as it can — to assure that it would not appear on gear made by Leonard’s new contract partners at New Balance.

That surely has to breach some ethics clause somewhere and is undoubtedly a douchebag move.  Then again the Clippers are a suspect franchise with suspect history so I suppose everything that’s happening is to be expected. 

Our man Louis Zatzman was the Game 1 press conference and asked a question to Pascal about how it feels not wearing Joel Embiid and Giannis all over him:

It’s a fantastic question for the player to respond do. Siakam dodged it, but good on Louis for asking something we genuinely want to see Siakam elaborate on.

Onto more positive stuff, leaving the horrific ticket prices aside, they are having a very nice side-effect. There are giveaways in many workplaces where some managers have bought a couple pair of Raptors ticktets at gaudy prices and are raising money through raffles. The demand is so high that everyone’s participating. Off the top of my head I know four such places that have raised a combined 65K for charity just based on 8 Raptors tickets. It’s a pleasant economical side-effect to capitalist pricing. I believe that’s how this system is supposed to work.

Finally, Raptors Republic is spearheading the Kawine and Dine movement and a reporter asked Kawhi about it in today’s presser. It’s the first question – check out all the Raptors press conferences from today on our YouTube channel.

Be sure to read Adam’s superb breakdown of Marc Gasol.

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