Nick Nurse is still a relative unknown among casual NBA fans, who paid more attention to Dwane Casey’s departure than Nurse’s promotion to Toronto’s head coach last offseason. He quietly and deftly managed a remade Raptors roster, incorporating four new starters while keeping a 10-man rotation happy en route to a second-place finish in the Eastern Conference.
Toronto’s early playoff success — Sunday’s win over Orlando marked the first time the franchise has ever led a series 3-1 — will further boost Nurse’s reputation. So will the newest iconic GIF on NBA social media, courtesy of Nurse after a three-second violation with which he did not agree.
Nurse was sincerely bemused when asked about the reaction after the game.
“Is trending good?” he quipped.
“Good” might be up for debate, but there is no doubt his nationally televised reaction will at least be useful to countless social media users in the months to come.
Celtics get out little-used broom
The Boston Celtics completed their first 4-0 series win since since they swept the New York Knicks in the first round in 2011. It was the first time they’ve swept the Pacers since 1992.
The Celtics’ depth and defense was simply too much for the overmatched Pacers, who were without star Victor Oladipo.
Indiana hung tough with Boston through the start of the fourth, but couldn’t withstand a flurry of 3s by the Pacers in the final minutes.
Gordon Hayward came off the bench for 20 points and Marcus Morris added 18 points. The two combined for five 3-pointers in the final five minutes to lead the Celtics to the 110-106 victory in Game 4.
Kyrie Irving finished with 14 points and seven assists, but the firepower he brought to the previous three games wasn’t needed to complete the sweep.
Turner posterizes Hayward
On the other side, at least Pacers fans got this one to play all offseason:
Make way for CJ
Damian Lillard is reigning All-NBA First Teamer, yet he can only do so much on behalf of the Blazers’ postseason effort. Enter CJ McCollum, who is enjoying the best playoff run of his career. The former No. 10 overall pick is averaging 26.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists against Oklahoma City while shooting a scalding 51.6 percent from 3.
McCollum has produced in playoffs past, but there is an added edge to his play this spring. That was evident in this back-to-back sequence in which he rejected Paul George on one end and buried a shameless pull-up 3.
When both halves of the Blazers’ backcourt are clicking, few offenses are equipped to keep up.
Klay Thompson enjoyed one of his signature microwave nights for the Warriors, putting up 27 first-half points and finishing with six 3s on nine attempts.
The performance was Thompson’s first with 20 points or more since March 31. It turns out he was very aware of his low-scoring stretch. Thompson admitted to reporters after the game that, while playing beach volleyball with Jonas Jerebko on Saturday, he decided to take a quick swim to “clear his head.”
Klay said he was playing beach volleyball with Jonas Jerebko yesterday and decided to jump into the ocean to clear his head. He thinks that got him on the right track again.
— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) April 21, 2019
Shooters, you heard it from Klay. If your shot’s in a funk, go take a dip.
Shout-out to ‘Sheed
Terry Stotts is no-frills kind of guy, but that doesn’t mean he’s not culturally unaware. After observing that “both teams played hard,” the Blazers coach thoughtfully pointed skyward and paid his respects to Rasheed Wallace.
shoutout to Sheed pic.twitter.com/oGr312ZMwQ
— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) April 22, 2019
For those who don’t remember, Wallace repeated that phrase ad nauseam during a 2003 playoffs postgame news conference.
Magic Johnson has mostly kept a low public profile since his surprise resignation as the Lakers’ president of basketball operations.
But he and his wife, Cookie, stepped out in style as they prepared for Sunday’s Easter observance:
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 21, 2019
David Lundy also contributed to this edition of About Last Night.