Desperate times called for desperate measures from Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse on Sunday.
In a 109-104 loss to the Warriors in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, Nurse switched to a box-and-one defense late in the fourth quarter to defend Golden State star Steph Curry in the absence of injured teammate Klay Thompson. The plan largely worked, as Curry was held off the scoresheet for the entirety of the fourth quarter.
The two-time MVP thought the Raptors "were playing some janky defense," and his younger brother was on the same page. Portland Trail Blazers guard Seth Curry was surprised to see the strategy used.
They playing a Box and 1? Lol— Seth Curry (@sdotcurry) June 3, 2019
I have never seen that in the NBA before..— Seth Curry (@sdotcurry) June 3, 2019
The Raptors' plan appeared to many to come from the Galaxy Brain playbook, but Nurse's adjustment helped Toronto get back in the game Sunday. The Warriors were limited to just 21 points in the fourth quarter, albeit on 8-of-17 shooting, while Curry did not attempt a shot. Golden State's defense, meanwhile, returned the favor on the other end of the floor as the Raptors only made 26.9 percent of their fourth-quarter attempts.
Whether the Raptors return to their "janky defense" surely will depend on the status of Thompson -- and Kevin Durant -- in Game 3, as either player would relish a wide-open shot while a defender blankets Curry. Even if they can't play, the strategy likely wouldn't be sustainable over the course of a full game, but potentially could be deployed in high-leverage situations.
If the Raptors run a box-and-one again during the best-of-seven series, chances are the Curry brothers won't be as surprised.