Since that win over Portland last Friday, the Raptors have declined three opportunities to practice. They had a session scheduled for Saturday afternoon but cancelled it late on Friday. They opted not to practice on Monday, following Sunday’s 112-107 overtime loss in Detroit, even though the game started at 6 p.m. ET and they flew back that night. Then, they took Wednesday off after a disappointing showing against Houston on Tuesday. They also chose not to hold a morning shootaround ahead of the Rockets game.
This approach isn’t entirely unusual, especially this late into the season. You see it around the league, as veteran playoff-bound teams look to maximize rest for their players where and when they can.
“It’s just that time of year,” said Raptors head coach Nick Nurse. “I think we’ve played some really tough games lately, really tough, close, physical, good teams, high level. There’s just not much use [in practising some days]. We got home at 12:30 [a.m. Monday morning], you’re gonna drag ’em out of bed and what are you gonna get out of the main guys anyway? We do a lot of skill work on those days, anyway, and treatments, and just about every guy hits the gym anyway.”
“这只是一年中的这个时期，”猛龙队主教练尼克纳斯说道。 “我认为我们最近打过一些非常艰难的比赛，非常强硬，紧绷，高肢体强度，而且是强队，高水平。 [在某些日子里练习]没有多大用处。我们在12:30 [凌晨，周一早上]才回到家，你只能把他们从床上拖下来，你还想让主要球员们交出什么？无论如何，我们在那些日子做很多技巧训练，和治疗，而且反正几乎每个人都会去健身房。“
Of course, nothing is guaranteed. Sitting Leonard out of a game or cancelling a practice won’t necessarily prevent an injury, but ensuring players aren’t overworked is proven to mitigate the risk, at least to some degree.
Even outside of Leonard and his unique situation, Kyle Lowry will turn 33 later this month and Marc Gasol is 34. Danny Green and Serge Ibaka are both veteran players that have accumulated plenty of mileage and logged big minutes this season. If they’re going to continue to play significant minutes down the stretch, it makes sense to closely monitor their off-court workload.
However, while this approach has merit, it’s not without risk. The primary takeaway from the Raptors’ last two games – losses to Detroit and Houston – is that they still have work to do. Even after 65 games, there’s a newness to this roster. Leonard and Lowry have only played 35 games together. Fred VanVleet is still out and won’t be back until just before the playoffs, at the earliest. OG Anunoby has been in and out of the lineup all season. Jeremy Lin just arrived three weeks ago, and Gasol a week before that.
然而，虽然这种方法具有优点，但并非没有风险。猛龙队最近两场比赛 - 输给底特律和休斯顿 --主要心得是他们还有需要下功夫的。即使在65场比赛之后，这个阵容也还有生疏的地方。伦纳德和洛瑞只一同打了35场比赛。 弗雷德范弗里特仍缺战，并且最早情况下，直至季后赛之前都不会回来。 OG Anunoby整个赛季都进出阵容。林书豪刚刚三周前抵达，而加索尔则在他一周前抵达。
Thanks in large part to the injuries, rest nights, roster turnover and the coach’s desire to tinker, Nurse’s rotation has been all over the place this season, and at times it shows. On certain nights this team shows glimpses of its enormous potential, on others it looks like they’re meeting each other for the first time.
The devil’s advocate might argue that any time they choose not to spend in a gym together is a wasted opportunity to build chemistry and get on the same page. The challenge for Nurse and his team is figuring out how to balance their rest-of-season priorities without allowing one to come at the expense of another.