Nurse letting Griffin coach against 76ers

Aaron Rose

OG Anunoby and Serge Ibaka won't be the only Tonight Raptors getting the night off against the Philadelphia 76ers tonight. Raptors coach Nick Nurse has stepped aside for the night, giving assistant coach Adrian Griffin a chance to sit in the top chair.

"[Nurse] approached me with it and it just kinda shows what kind of character that Coach Nurse has," Griffin said. "You know, we have a first-class organization for a reason. You start from the top with Masai [Ujiri] and Bobby [Webster] and Coach Nurse. There's a reason why we've had success over the years."

Griffin has been with the Raptors organization since 2018 and tonight will be his first NBA head coaching opportunity.

"Just like when athletes and basketball players are training in the summer, there's nothing comparing to game condition," he said. "You can work out all you want, but until you get in those games and you get up and down the court, there's a difference. And I think it's the same way. It's really equivalent to an assistant coach moving over to that chair. You do all the training that you can and practice but it's good to get those game reps."

Don't expect Griffin to change much up against the Eastern Conference's sixth-seeded 76ers.

"I'm just gonna go out there, execute the plan that Coach Nurse has really provided a great blueprint to follow and just kinda let the cards fall where they may," he said.

Here are a few things to watch for:

1. Bench Minutes

Nurse has repeatedly said that the Raptors rotation will only go seven or eight deep on most nights in the playoffs, but with Patrick McCaw out, that eighth spot is still a little bit up for grabs. Some of those minutes will certainly come down to the matchup and what the Raptors need from their eighth man.

Last time out, Matt Thomas and Chris Boucher looked impressive. Thomas looked fluid offensively and his defense is coming around while Boucher ran the court well, scoring a game-high 25 points with 11 rebounds.

Considering Philadelphia actually has something to play for, tonight's game should be more indicative of what they can do in meaningful action.

2. Terence Davis II

Terence Davis II came into the Raptors' seeding games as the favourite to land the Raptors' fourth guard spot, but his play in the games has left something to be desired.

He's had a -19.2 net rating inside the bubble and has struggled particularly on defense with a Defensive Rating of 120, the worst of any Raptors rotation player so far.

He did have a few impressive moments in the second half against Milwaukee, but the Raptors will need to see more of that especially on the defensive end before Davis sees any meaningful playoff minutes.

3. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has the clearest path to playing time as the Raptors' defensive wing off the bench. Though he remains limited offensively, especially behind the arc where he shoots just 9.5%, Toronto has plenty of shooting to surround him to make lineups with him reasonably successful in limited minutes.

Expect him once again to see significant action against Philadelphia.

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