Full court pressure works in the NBA
The Raptors’ record-setting comeback win over the Mavericks was an eye opener
BY DAVID THORPE
The hallmark of a stupid NBA idea is the full court press. It’s a strategy that relies on poor decision-making and ball handling. It kills in middle school, high school, and college. But at this level, everyone can handle the ball, so it’s almost never done.
Or so goes the thinking.
Tell that to Raptors coach Nick Nurse. He recently won a title thanks in part to another middle-school defense—the box and one. One of the most exciting games of the 2019-2020 NBA season was the furious comeback by Toronto against the Mavericks on December 22. The surprise victory was built on something unexpected: Coach Nurse’s super effective full court press.
Mavericks 85, Raptors 55
With 14 minutes and 33 seconds left to play, the Raptors are down by thirty. At that point, an algorithm rated their in-game probability of winning at one fifth of one percent.
Dwight Powell rips down the missed free throw from Chris Boucher’s attempt. A few seconds later, the Raptors are caught not getting …