A day after Kyle Lowry was named an All-Star reserve for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game, the Toronto Raptors added a coaching staff to the All-Star roster. Thanks to a 105-92 road win over the Detroit Pistons on Friday — the team’s 10th straight victory — Raptors head coach Nick Nurse and the rest of Toronto’s coaching staff will coach Team Giannis in the 2020 NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 16 in Chicago.
“We knew we needed to get a win today,” Pascal Siakam said after scoring a game-high 30 points in the game. “Kyle said it [to the locker room], we’ve got to do it for them and make sure that they come out there. It’s going to be fun, having our coaches [in Chicago], seeing familiar faces. It’s going to be a fun weekend for sure.”
Nurse gets the nod because the Raptors, at 35-14, have the best record in the Eastern Conference through games played Sunday, Feb. 4 for teams with a head coach eligible for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game. Milwaukee’s Mike Budenholzer is ineligible to coach in the game because he served as head coach in last year’s NBA All-Star Game.
Toronto will be represented well in Chicago. Siakam was voted in as a starter in his first All-Star appearance while Kyle Lowry was named an All-Star for the sixth consecutive season when reserves were announced on Thursday night.
“[I’m] super excited,” Lowry said. “[I said before] I’m even more excited for Pascal, and now Nick is out here and he’s able to do it with his coaching staff. It’s well earned and well deserved and I’m really really happy for those guys.”
This is Nurse’s second season as head coach of the Raptors after spending five seasons as an assistant coach with the team. He’s coming off an incredible season as a rookie NBA head coach where he led the Raptors to the first NBA Championship in franchise history.
“It’s cool, man,” Fred VanVleet said. “We’ve got a special bond with [our coaching staff]. Obviously, we won a championship together. It’s a really cool experience. To be Nurse’s second year, win a championship and then be the head coach for the All-Star game, and for the rest of the assistants being able to go, it’s an honour.
“We’ve got to give those guys credit,” VanVleet added. “Coaches don’t really get a lot of credit in the league, but they definitely do a good job of putting us in a good position. They’re flexible, they listen to us, and with the little amount of practice times we have, it’s very important that we have good communication and trust.”
Nurse is the second head coach in franchise history to earn the honour with Dwane Casey and his staff coaching Team LeBron in the 2018 NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles. Nurse has earned the NBA’s Coach of the Month award twice (Oct./Nov. 2018 and Oct./Nov. 2019), and has led the Raptors to a 93-38 (.710) record in two seasons as head coach.
“We get to be the beneficiaries of an organizational award,” Nurse said of receiving the nod. “It’s certainly a tremendous honour for us. There’s a lot that goes into it. It should be a really enjoyable experience for our guys. It’s neat to be around that event, the greatest players in the world all under one roof. I think it’s going to be a good experience for the whole staff, all the way down through.”
The two All-Star teams will be selected by team captains: LeBron James in the Western Conference and Giannis Antetokounmpo in the Eastern Conference. Each NBA All-Star head coach will lead the team that includes the captain from the same conference. While Nurse and his staff will coach Team Giannis, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel and his staff will coach Team LeBron.
When asked whether he’d like to have Siakam and Lowry on his own team or if he’d prefer to face the two as the opposition in the game, it didn’t take Nurse long to respond with praise for his players.
“I would definitely want them on my team,” he said.