There’s a game today against Boston and it’s not on TV in Toronto. If I can catch it online I’ll report back on it.
Let’s quickly run through what Casey is saying:
The practices are now zoning in more on offense but still have a “defensive vibe”. They’re focusing on getting into their offense quicker, which has been a problem for some time. Whether it be Calderon dribbling the ball hard into the ground until the logo starts bleeding, or Bayless browsing his options at the same leisure we all used to browse CDs at HMV. When Chris Bosh was around, 10 seconds of the shot clock were all about him trying to get his position at the elbow, then there were 8 more seconds spent while he tried to fool the defender, by which point option #2 on the play had boiled down to a long jumper.
There’s no denying things looked bad on Sunday, you can’t hide 39% shooting and only 19 assists, even if it’s against Boston. Given a choice, though, I’d opt for the slow, Eastern conference style of basketball that keeps us close, than the Phoenix East nonsense that has us within a shout in the first quarter and down by 20 at halftime. Casey’s going to adjust the game pace, plan, and style based on personnel. Previous coaches tried to play a certain brand of basketball even though they fully well knew the personnel weren’t there.
Casey also said not to read anything into the starting lineup. Not today, or for the whole season. The schedule congestion has forced his hand and there is not going to be a standard starting lineup this year. The center position is by committee for the whole season, and that’s basically the situation with the point guard as well. As stated a couple days ago, the only position that picks itself is DeRozan, so when he throws out a lineup out there, it will never mean that that is the lineup he thinks contains the best set of players he has.
He elaborated on the center by committee and said that he has no issue playing Amir Johnson at the five. The only concern is that Amir sometimes get pushed around the block too easily and will have to often rely on his reach and athleticism to play defense, rather than pure positioning and strength. Whatever. Let him play there, it’ll be something new to watch. He’s right now the best Raptors big at defending the pick ‘n roll, and if playing center means he’s the guy hedging, trapping and so on, good. Speaking of Amir, he says he’s fine playing the center. I mean, what’s he supposed to say, “No, I can’t play the center!”? They asked him if he sees himself playing the Tyson Chandler role, to which he pretty much said, I don’t know, sure.
Johnson dropped the word accountability again and you could see examples of that on Sunday. First and foremost, players were sticking tight to their man instead of relying on help rotations. Of course, rotations are unavoidable on any given set, the difference between Triano and Casey is that Triano’s defense stressed help defense almost as the first option. Maybe it was because he was catering to Bargnani, or trying his famed “protect the paint” strategy, I don’t know. What I do know is that Casey’s approach is vastly different and calls on a player to do his level best and then some before the defense is in trouble. I’ll illustrate this with some game tape at some point.
Defensive interchangeability at the big spots is going to be huge this year. From what I’ve seen of Casey’s defense, it’s all about having mobile bigs who can pressure the ball so that the release pass is difficult. The way you pressure the ball in the half-court is rarely through just guards, it’s through bigs who make that release pass difficult. If you have the game taped, there’s a few instances of this in the first half with Bargnani being a key guy in a couple of those possessions. The Raptors have some great athleticism in Johnson and Davis to do this, and if Bargnani can up his defensive game to match that, then Casey will have some real defensive options and all this talk of needing a Chandler-type will dissolve away.
Finally, this, what is up with that 3-D logo? It looks ugly in-person and on TV, I’m not getting what this buys the Raptors. Unless they plan on having dynamic advertisements based on who’s watching (like they do in football in Europe), I don’t see what the point is. Actually, wait. It’s not even an ad to begin with, it’s just the word Raptors in a weird looking font. Whatever the case, somebody made a lot of money there.