The Toronto Raptors were on such a high coming off the NBA all- star weekend. Rudy Gay was in the fold, games were being won and the fans were getting excited. Terrence Ross added to that feeling with an emphatic win at the dunk contest. Myself and pundits alike were attempting to figure out how many wins the team needed to make the playoffs. I even thought that Raptors had a legitimate shot at getting the eighth seed with games dotting their schedule against lesser teams.
Ten days later and the mood has changed dramatically. Andrea Bargnani wasn’t traded and the only piece that came in was Sebastian Telfair. What has dramatically jumped out at me once again is how Dwane Casey continues to get out coached. Specifically how he continues to mismanage his rotation.
Casey has severely cut down his rotation. Ross isn’t getting any playing time at all. His shot disserted him before the all-star break and now so has his court time.
John Lucas III was a bright spot after the Jose Calderon trade. His up tempo style and his streaky shooting instantly made him a crowd favorite. Now he has to split time on the second unit with Telfair.
Jonas Valanciunas isn’t getting any crunch time minutes while Bargnani still is. Lowry is playing too much and not playing well enough. Bargnani needs to be benched and Lowry needs to sit longer stretches.
I have always believed that Casey just didn’t understand being a head coach. He seemed fine with being an assistant where he could concentrate on the defensive end. Now he has to manage the rotation, court time and player egos. You can see it right on Lowry’s face when he doesn’t play in the fourth quarter.
Casey doesn’t understand that he must stick with the hot hands going down the stretch. If you look at every fourth quarter in the past fifteen games approximately you would see the same five guys out there. The real coaches, the real good coaches understand that game plans have to change during the game. That rotations are dependent on how well a player is playing on that given night. He has to understand that he needs to do to force how the opposition uses its’ rotation and not the other way around.
An assistant coach has to sit down with Casey and review the tape after every game and point out why this player should have been on the court and why another shouldn’t have. It’s time not to worry about egos and salaries and only worry about wins. If that means going with Lucas III at point guard and bench players down the stretch then that is how it should be.
The first and foremost asset to any successful coach is the management of his players and the rotation. Up until now Casey has failed at both.
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