The stage was set. The Toronto Raptors were coming off a bad loss to the Washington Wizards at home, a game they needed to win especially against a team lower than them in the standings, but they didn’t. So, the team should have been ready to play and beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in Ohio. The Cavs wouldn’t have Raptor killer, Alan Anderson kryptonite, hotshot point guard Kyrie Irving in the lineup. The stage was set for a big important road win, one step closer to the Milwaukee Bucks and the final playoff spot.
What occurred was a microcosm of Dwane Casey’s time as coach. The mark of a good coach is knowing how to control the flow of the game and not letting the opposition team get on runs. This is done with timeouts, substitutions, changes in defensive strategies, running different offensive sets or just plain slowing the game down. None of this was done against the Cavs. I should say all of it was done, but was done too late.
I struggle with knowing hether or not Casey knows how to coach when the stress levels get high. I struggle with the fact that the assistant coaches, and there are enough of them, don’t communicate with him. Is it that he doesn’t trust them or doesn’t give them enough responsibility? Does he actually watch game tape and realize that he should have done something different?
The Raptors lost to the Cavs, who are a team with a worse record than them and a team without their leader and star. The Raptors let Dion Waiters be the second best player on the court best because DeMar Derozan was the best player on the court but in crunch time or in breaking a Cavaliers run time, they went away from him.
They let Shawn Livingston, a one-time prospect who destroyed his knee score fifteen points. How does Luke Walton get seven rebounds and seven assists? It happened tonight. How does Andrea Bargnani get playing time in crunch time? Can any assistant coach tell Casey that with Jonas Valanciunas on the court the Raptors are +14, but with Bargnani on the court they are -12? If I can get that stat, I am sure he can.
The Raptors have lost two games in a row that they should have won. Many are now wondering if the team still has a shot at getting into the playoffs. Of course they do. They have to win 17 games in their final 24. It can be done, but it means victories against the Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, Brooklyn Nets and or the Boston Celtics on the final night. If it does happen, I would be surprised. If it doesn’t, then Casey doesn’t survive as coach.
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