The National Basketball Association announced Monday that Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse has been selected as Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for games played in October and November. He joins Dwane Casey, Sam Mitchell and Lenny Wilkens as the only coaches in franchise history to earn the honour.
Nurse led Toronto to an NBA-best 19-4 record, including a franchise-record six straight victories to start the season (Oct. 17-26). Offensively the Raptors ranked third in the NBA averaging 117.6 points and first in field goal percentage (.494). Newly acquired Kawhi Leonard averaged a team-high 25.0 points last month under Nurse’s system, just a half-point off his career-high of 25.0 points from the 2016-17 season. Serge Iabaka (16.8 points) and Pascal Siakam (14.8) both posted career-high numbers for points last month, while Kyle Lowry led the NBA averaging a career-best 10.3 assists. Toronto ranked among the NBA’s top-10 defensively, holding opponents to 109.9 points (ninth in the NBA), a .445 opponent field goal percentage (fifth) and .335 shooting from three-point range (sixth).
Highlighting the month were key victories over Atlantic Division rivals Boston (Oct. 19) and Philadelphia (Oct. 30). The Raptors rallied from a 17-point deficit Nov. 27 at Memphis for a season-high comeback win 122-114 over the Grizzlies. Toronto then capped off the month Nov. 29 with a 131-128 overtime win against the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors – pushing the Raptors winning streak to a season-high seven games (Nov. 17-29).
A native of Carroll, Iowa, Nurse becomes the first rookie head coach to earn the award since Luke Walton in November 2015, when Walton served as interim head coach for Golden State. Nurse became the ninth head coach in franchise history June 14, 2018 following five seasons as an assistant coach with the Raptors.