Toronto Raptors HQ Podcast — That’s A Rap #99: Coach of the year?

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BREAKING NEWS: The Raptors are undefeated in the bubble!

That may shock you if you’ve been following the social media accounts for The Ringer or Bleacher Report. While Toronto reminds everyone who the defending champions are, the team has alleviated any pressure heading into their final five re-seeding games and afforded themselves some rest.

I took a similar approach and sat out this week’s episode. Just like the Raptors, we’re a well-oiled machine at That’s A Rap. Jason and Dre picked up the slack had some great discussions about the Western Conference battle for the 8-seed, the team’s inspired play, and, of course, some ranting about Nick Nurse’s Coach of the Year credentials.

Enjoy the latest episode, and make sure to share your thoughts in the comments.

In This Episode:

1:45 — Disney Feeling

Disney is known for being the happiest place on earth. Considering this is the third consecutive week of zero positive tests and the quality of play has been outstanding, the NBA bubble has become the happiest place in the sporting world.

4:10 — Wild, Wild West

When the bubble was announced, five extra West teams were invited to the bubble. Jokes were made about the Suns inclusion. Who’s laughing now? Memphis’ youth and experience (plus the unfortunate injury to Jaren Jackson Jr.) are showing at the worst possible time. With four games complete and four losses, they’ve fallen back to the pack and opened up a six-team battle royale for the final playoff spot. As of this morning, with almost half the re-seeding games complete, all six teams are within 2.5 games of each other. This should be an exciting finish!

13:00 — Mask it or casket

Up until this week, the Raptors were pitching a one-hit shutout. Nobody had tested positive for COVID-19. Not after they played Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, and the Utah Jazz in March (the last game before Gobert’s positive test result). Not after the Raptors entered Florida (not the bubble), two weeks before every other non-Florida team. Only Chris Boucher’s trip to Rabba kept the Raptors from a perfect pandemic. Along comes Terence Davis with a hole in his mask. Oh, the rookie mistakes!

17:45 — Teamwork makes the dream work

It’s been rare to have all Raptors starters healthy this season. Since the re-start, Toronto has shown that their over-achieving regular season was the tip of the iceberg. The starters have been dominating so far, with Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby (Adobe?) leading the way.

On the flip side, there are a couple areas of concern. Are you worried about Pascal Siakam’s offense and/or turnovers? Or is the bench in need of more run to get back into their pre-pandemic groove?

36:25 — Snub of the year?

The Coaches Association voted Mike Budenholzer and Billy Donovan as co-coaches of the year. Budenholzer is the coach of the team with the best record in the NBA. Okay. Sure. It’s a lazy selection, especially when he’s armed with the MVP. But Donovan over Nick Nurse? His team lost a superstar, was expected to miss the playoffs, yet managed to over-achieve. If that sounds like Nurse’s resume, it’s not — he also had to deal with a plethora of injuries to six of his top seven players!

47:05 — Bubble boys in the bubble

With the Raptors essentially locked into the 2-seed (magic number is one heading into tonight’s matchup with the Celtics), how should Nurse and the coaching staff attack the back-half of their re-seeding schedule? Does the bench get more run? Will Nurse try some rotational pieces or specific plays for a potential date with Boston/Milwaukee?