Raptors coach Nick Nurse blasts refs after Celtics win, 14 free throws for Jayson Tatum

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Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse dug deep into his tactical playbook following Tuesday’s loss to the Boston Celtics.

He’ll likely dig into his pockets next.

The Celtics went to the free throw line 25 times on Tuesday, compared to 19 trips for the Raptors. Jayson Tatum almost equaled Toronto’s tally, earning 14 trips to the stripe — where he it all 14. Nurse took notice and blasted the officials for their treatment of the Celtics star after the Raptors fell into a 2-0 hole in the Eastern Conference semifinals with the 102-99 loss.

“The only frustrating part about it is this,” Nurse said. “He shoots 14 free throws, which is as much as our whole team shoots. That’s the frustrating part. I think our guys were working hard on him and we were doing a pretty good job. … They were obviously getting him the ball a lot, getting him some space.

“We could have helped a little bit better here in there. But they took pretty good care of him tonight.”

Nurse attempted to thwart an inevitable fine from the NBA by declining to expand on his thoughts on officiating. But that ship had already sailed. Especially after his blunt criticism of a a critical late-game call.

With the Celtics leading 102-99 in the game’s final minute, Raptors forward Pascal Siakam attacked the basket on an isolation play against Marcus Smart.

Smart stayed with Siakam as he drove from the top of the key and stripped Siakam under the basket.

Officials ruled that the ball went out of bounds off Smart and upheld the decision upon review. Raptors ball.

But Nurse wanted more. He thought Smart fouled Siakam on the play. He argued with officials on the court and blasted them after the game.

“I think Smart fouled the s— of him,” Nurse told reporters.

Nurse is surely fine with with whatever fine is coming. Calling out the refs plants the seed with officials that Toronto isn’t getting a fair shake. And that’s worth whatever fine he’ll pay, even if the officials don’t take the bait.

The defending champs are up against the wall, and Nurse is going to play every card in his hand to get back into the series.


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