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Part of establishing an identity, though, is allowing the players to do that on the floor. Coming into the season, the return of the same starting five, a group that was dominant in a small sample size last year, was cited as a reason the Raptors could be optimistic about a better fate. Casey, though, opted away from that group on Tuesday at home against Miami, as he has often done before in the name of matching up with his opponents. On Wednesday night, nothing Casey tried worked with any consistency, as the Raptors lost 92-90 to the Bobcats in Charlotte.
With so many teams going smaller, Casey said “You’ve got to have a centre that can switch out. That’s where Jonas’ next step is also, his growth part, to be out there on the floor to go against that, to be able to switch against guys like (Dwyane) Wade, LeBron (James) and guys like that is going to be the next step.” The coach also indicated that there’s more to his lineup decisions than meets the eye. Statistics come into play, reading into matchups and even worrying about a game the next day or in some cases, several days later.
The truth is that the game should never have gone down to a final possession and only did because the Raptors lollygagged through an atrocious first quarter that left them trailing 32-18. It was the kind of lackadaisical effort that should not come from a team that harbours playoff aspirations. Back to back to back or with a week’s rest, at home or on the road, a legitimate playoff team doesn’t ease into a game that way. “That was a great lesson for us to come out with a professional, intense approach as if we were serious about winning and we didn’t do that,” said Casey. “We left it in the hands of the last couple of possessions.
The Raptors couldn’t convert down the stretch and allowed human freight train Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to score a pivotal end-to-end bucket. DeMar DeRozan missed a runner in the final minute and the team declined to foul until the final seconds. “We felt like we had five seconds and as soon as we got the rebound (the team was) going to call timeout,” Casey said of why the Raptors fouled so late. “(If Charlotte makes) two free throws, it’s over with anyway “¦ We felt like we could get one stop and then get a timeout. That’s the way it went down at the end, it should never have gotten to that.”
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Raptors Head Coach Dwane Casey let his team play out the final 27 seconds without fouling even though his team was down by 2 points. Gerald Henderson fired off a long distance three-pointer as the shot clock expired that hit the rim and time expired before Toronto could rebound the ball.
Looking at the schedule ahead things could get very bad very fast for the Raptors. If that happens expect the watch to begin for the Raptors to hit the self-destruction button on this season. In order to earn a lottery ticket and a shot at a saviour for a franchise that is in bad need of one.
But if the Raptors are to make a serious run this season they’ll need their pair of second-year players, Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross, to take on more prominent responsibilities on a nightly basis. The two players are obviously building blocks for the future in Toronto. In late October, the Raptors exercised the rookie options on both players through the 2014-15 season and are clearly expecting them to be heavy contributors moving forward.
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