- Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse called a controversial timeout late in the fourth quarter of Game 5 that seemed to swing momentum to the Golden State Warriors.
- The timeout came after Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard scored 10 straight points to give Toronto a 103-97 lead with just over three minutes left.
- Out of the timeout, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry led the Warriors on a 9-2 run to end the game and secure the win for Golden State.
- After the game, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith ripped Nurse for the timeout, but the Raptors head coach offered a simple explanation for the decision.
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The Toronto Raptors lost Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Toronto on Monday night, falling to the Warriors, 106-105, and sending the series back to Oakland.
The game was tightly contested, and for a moment in the fourth quarter, it looked as though the Raptors might have secured the title-clinching victory, with superstar Kawhi Leonard scoring 10 straight points in less than two minutes to put Toronto up 103-97 with just over three minutes left to play.
But just as the Raptors seemed to have the Warriors on the ropes, Toronto head coach Nick Nurse called a timeout – a decision that would be debated and argued over at length after the game due to what came next.
Out of the break, the Warriors hit their stride, with Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry drilling three straight threes to give Golden State a lead that would prove good enough to extend the series. The Raptors would manage just two points in the final three minutes after Nurse’s timeout.
After the game, many questioned Nurse’s decision to call a timeout when his team seemed to be firing on all cylinders.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith was likely the loudest of these critics.
“I don’t know why he called the timeout,” Smith told ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt. “You don’t need to call a timeout at that particular moment in time.”
“They were about to basically have a coronation inside the Scotiabank Arena. And then you call a timeout and give Golden State a reason to rest… and lo and behold, Klay Thompson hits a three, then Stephen Curry hits a three, then Klay Thompson comes back and hits a three.”
You can watch Smith’s entire rant here.
Nurse was asked about the timeout after the game, and told reporters that his decision to call the timeout was a simple one – he was about to lose a timeout at the three-minute mark of the game, as teams are limited to two timeouts in the final three minutes. So he decided to use it to give his players a quick break instead of letting the timeout go to waste.
It’s tough to fault Nurse for this thinking – most coaches in the league would probably make a similar decision given how much energy players were spending at that point. That said, looking at the play-by-play of the game, it’s impossible to miss the timeout as the moment the momentum changed direction.
The Raptors will have another chance to seal their first championship in franchise history this Thursday when Game 6 tips off back in Golden State.
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