The Sixers have landed their guy, former Raptors head coach Nick Nurse.

Nurse spent 5 years in Toronto before the team let him go this offseason after a 41-41 season. Nurse was initially brought to Toronto as the next offensive guru but slowly morphed into one of the best defensive coaches in the NBA. 

Let’s clarify one thing: this move by the Sixers is a clear indication that they are trying to win this year and not re-tool. The team would not bring in a coach like Nurse if they were going to trade Embiid or not try to compete this upcoming season. 

That said, Nurse has a reputation for being very demanding of his players, which was lacking under former coach Doc Rivers.

Nurse has been known to rip his players publicly if they are underperforming; definitely a significant switch from Rivers, who is known to handle issues in-house rather than to the media. 

It will be interesting to see not only if James Harden comes back now, knowing that things will undoubtedly be more challenging than they were under Rivers, but how Joel Embiid will respond to tough coaching. Throughout Embiid’s professional career, he has had two coaches, Doc Rivers and Brett Brown. Both coaches were very accommodating to Embiid, Nurse will not be that. 

After winning the Finals in 2019, the Sixers’ new coach came out with a book detailing how he thought the best way to defend Embiid was. He mentioned that Embiid plays off of the crowd; if you can shut him down in the first five minutes of the game, it will mentally take him out of the game. Nurse is exactly the type of coach that Embiid needs, mainly because he has mostly shut Embiid down during his tenure in Toronto. 

Embiid needs a coach like Nurse to ride him and get the most out of his ability and an outside perspective of a coach that has defended him very well over the course of his career. 

For that reason alone, Nurse is the right fit for this Sixers team if they are trying to extend this window. It’s not just Embiid, but the entire team desperately needed a change in culture, and Nurse will certainly bring that.
It may get ugly at times as the team adapts to this new style, but they will undoubtedly be better for it in the long term.

Photo: Philadelphia 76ers/Twitter

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