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Nick Nurse looking at silver lining amid Serge Ibaka suspension

Serge Ibaka, Nick Nurse, Raptors

Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse has seen his team go through plenty of ups and downs in a quest for the top spot in the East, but Serge Ibaka’s recent three-game suspension for an altercation with Cleveland Cavaliers big man Marquese Chriss comes as a gut-punch for a team hoping to hit stride in the last few games of the regular season.

“It’s something he’s done really well this year, I thought, emotionally, just in general. He’s just had a great season,” said Nurse, according to Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun. “He’s been a good teammate and all of that stuff. It’s a little bit of a bummer that he’s got to go through it and we’ve got to go through it. It’s just another little thing we’ve got to handle and move on from it and learn from it if we can and look at the positives.”

This change will result in center Marc Gasol getting “a little more run and a little more rhythm and Serge (getting) a little more rest. There are some very, very slim silver linings there. That’s the way we’ve got to take them and view it and we’ve got to go play.”

Ibaka has been less of a stretch-big presence for this team under Nurse, but he’s been just as important, if not more of a key cog for this unit as a more efficient inside scorer and a stronger rebounding presence.

The Raptors are only 5-4 since the All-Star break, but will hope to keep the ship steady for the next three games without Ibaka, before getting him back for a home-and-away against the Oklahoma City Thunder, starting next Wednesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.