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Raptors’ Nick Nurse reacts to physicality of game vs. Rockets

Nick Nurse, Raptors, Rockets

The Toronto Raptors lost on their home court for just the seventh time all season Tuesday against the Houston Rockets, 107-95. The team still sits within 2.5 games of first place in the Eastern Conference and the league’s best record, but that wasn’t what rookie head coach Nick Nurse was focused on following the loss.

Instead, he was focusing on the intensity of the contest, which mirrored the playoff-like feel his team can expect in six weeks, saying via Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports, “They were really riding us. But for me, yeah, I would have certainly liked to win the game and have a couple guys play a little better, but its really good to get used to this stuff because we all know that’s what it looks like in six weeks.”

Unfortunately for Nurse, his teams next four games all come against squads not currently slated to make the postseason. That may assist Toronto in attempting to chase down the Milwaukee Bucks for the No. 1 seed, but not accomplish the goal of playing in the intense contests he seems to desire.

It will be a pivotal playoff run for the Raptors, who are not guaranteed the services of Kawhi Leonard beyond this year. Team president Masai Ujiri made the bold offseason move to flip a package centered around DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs in favor of Leonard, a deal the franchise hoped could put them over the top. With just 17 regular-season contests remaining, Raptors brass will soon find out if the gamble pays off, but Nurse seems willing to embrace it head on.