While talks about Florida’s rising COVID-19 cases are heavy, the defending champion Toronto Raptors have went ahead and travelled to the state to start pre-training camp preparations. They have been in town for a week.
The team is currently training in Florida Gulf Coast University’s courts in downtown Fort Myers, Florida. The practices will relocate on July 10th (Manila time) to kick-off the official training camp at the ESPN/Disney Complex.
Head coach Nick Nurse appears to be pleased with the city’s current set-up, and said that his guys mirror his thoughts, which is a very good sign. Here’s what he told ESPN’s Tim Bontemps in recent interview:
“I feel really safe here … We’ve got a great setup, and I feel good, man … I haven’t sensed any discontent or whatever about having to be here, or asking why. In general, the guys are good, and I think most of them are concerned about their careers and getting back to wherever they were or getting them better. I think there’s a real level that I see … the care factor is high.”
Among the 22 teams invited in the return, the Raps are the first to gather much of the roster and coaching staff in Florida. It’s probably for the best that they are ahead of everyone. America has a strict, 14-day quarantine for anyone re-entering the country, which obviously includes at least a handful on the team since they are the only Canada-based squad in the league.
As for life in the ‘bubble,’ which is another long-running discussion due to the uncertainties regarding the teams’ physical and mental health, Nurse doesn’t have a lot of worries either. He believes that he has a confident bunch, and all are in a basketball mindset.
“There’s some genuine chemistry with these guys … They like to play in general, they like to play with each other, the love of the game. … I would give a lot of our guys a lot of high marks in those areas.”
The ever-growing chemistry may be rooted in that giant chip on the team’s shoulders. They have been mostly written off ever since 2019 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard bolted for the LA Clippers, and everyone is out to prove the doubters wrong.
All that chatter has fuelled the Raptors as they have done well so far this season. Toronto currently has the number one-ranked defense at 106.5 points allowed per game and also third-best record in the league at 46-18.
We’ll see if the reigning champs will continue surging on. Their eight-game tilt to finish off the 2019-20 regular season is no pushover, and it’s actually the second-hardest remaining schedule in the restart:
Toronto Raptors NBA restart schedule:— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) June 26, 2020