Nursing a New Nation!
Nick Nurse renews the tradition of basketball in Canada as the Raptors win their first NBA Championship
The opportunity to coach a group of individuals is a task that many people would refuse to take on. The ability to lead could be described as a tentative gene that develops during the lives of certain people who are willing to answer the call of becoming a leader. To be a successful coach in the National Basketball Association, an individual must be confident in himself before he is able to make decisions that will alter the careers of people involved. Throughout the span of an NBA season, coaches and executive members of the organization are given an efficiency grade that determines how well each level of leadership is performing. When a head coach is able to win an NBA Championship during his first year of coaching, the whole organization deserves an "A+."
Throughout the 2018-2019 NBA season, the Toronto Raptors have shown glimpses of greatness. The acquisition of their first year head coach Nick Nurse was a sign that the organization was in the beginning stages of rebuilding a team for the future. The addition of Kawhi Leonard ultimately made the Eastern Conference team a competitor to other teams across the conference. With the absence of LeBron James in the Eastern Conference, many NBA locker rooms scattered to gain as much talent as they could to help their respective cities claim a NBA title. Toronto decided that to make the most of their situation, to acquire talent. Marc Gasol, Danny Green, and Kawhi Leonard were all new additions to the roster that needed some minor adjustments in order to become a real contender.
As the 2018-2019 season played its way out, the Raptors were quickly becoming a team that was catching the attention of fans across the league. They finished the season winning 71% of their games. As a result, they were able to finish the season with rights to the second seed in the Eastern Conference playoff bracket. After fighting off teams such as the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks, it was clear that the Raptors were here to prove that they belonged in the 2018-2019 NBA championship hunt.
The road to the NBA Finals was a task in itself. The Raptors fell behind teams in crucial parts in multiple series. The key to not being eliminated was not eliminating themselves. After falling behind 2-1 to the Philadelphia 76ers during the Eastern Conference semi-finals, Nick Nurse decided to aid his team in a way that he knew his players would respond. His method did not include yelling or screaming rather than instruction and intervention. It was clear that the team needed to be refocused and reminded of what they were capable of. "We strolled past them in game one and [the media] was like, here comes another sweep, and then they snuck out game two and kicked our ass in game 3." After the Raptors were able to locate their mistakes and pinpoint their problems, they were able to defeat the 76ers, who were bigger and stronger than the "boys of the north" by far. The Eastern Semifinals benefited the Toronto Raptors in ways they would not be able to comprehend until much more were to be asked of them later down the line. As the Toronto team finished off the Philadelphia 76ers, they were coming closer and closer to becoming NBA Champions.
After advancing from the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Raptors had to face Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. During the series, it was Kawhi’s job to make sure that Giannis did not cause the Raptors the series. When guarded by Kawhi, Antetokounmpo shot a dismal 29% from the field, which ultimately blew any chances of NBA fans seeing the Milwaukee team playing in the last series of the calendar year. While also contributing in the offensive side of the ball, Leonard was able to receive help from his supporting cast of teammates as they catapulted through a grueling Eastern a conference Finals.
The 2018-2019 NBA Finals were determined in multiple crucial moments of the series. The Toronto Raptors were able to jump out to a 3-1 lead in the series before Golden State could properly respond with a win of their own. The ultimate factors that led the Raptors to an NBA championship were team basketball and injuries. The Golden State Warriors, Kevin Durant decided to play in order to keep his team's playoff hopes alive during game 5 and ended up tearing his Achilles in the process. During game 6, Klay Thompson tore his ACL and could not return to help fight off the Toronto as they smelled blood in the Golden Bay. When the Raptors were able to rely on every and any player on their roster to make big plays during a crucial game 6, their team responded in the right way. After one hundred and five games of basketball this season, the Raptors were finally able to bring an NBA Championship to the nation of Canada, the home of many proud Raptor fans. Many will associate the success of the 2018-2019 championship run to the skill of Kawhi Leonard but it was truly Nick Nurse that healed the losing pains of a Canadian nation!