Amir Johnson gets Knighted

Raptors playing dumbbell defence these days | Toronto Sun

No matter how many wins this Raptors group produces in the season’s final four, regardless of opponent in the NBA’s opening round, nothing will be gained if stops aren’t made, if rotations aren’t executed, if a mind-set does not change. “If we haven’t taught defence by now, we shouldn’t be coaching,’’ began Casey on Thursday following his team’s workout. “It’s a mind-set right now, it’s a focus.” Casey has been around the NBA block long enough to know how players and teams go about their business this time of the basketball calendar, a time when ballers are playing for contracts, when teams heading to the draft lottery are auditioning players for next year. Only the few elite sustain their level of play, playing a championship-calibre defence devoid of slippages.

Lewenberg: Raptors aim to plug late-season defensive holes | TSN

Thanks in large part to a soft schedule and their improved efficiency on offence, they are finding ways to pull out games that they have probably deserved to lose. In that way, progress has been made, as Raptor teams of the past would universally find creative and increasingly frustrating ways to squander winnable games. The red flag is routed in their recent slippage on defence, Dwane Casey’s bread and butter. With the postseason around the corner, Casey knows that mental and physical toughness is about to become more important than ever. He can’t help but be concerned with what he’s seen. “If we haven’t taught defence by now we shouldn’t be coaching,” he said following a Thursday afternoon practice session. “It’s a mindset right now, it’s a focus. It’s this time of year throughout the league, it’s an epidemic.”

Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey has his players’ ears, and John Salmons would know | National Post

The Raptors have yearned for that type of stability for years now. June 2004 was the last time a general manager and coach ascended to their positions at roughly the same time for the Raptors, when Rob Babcock and Sam Mitchell landed those jobs, respectively. Last year, it was clear that general manager Bryan Colangelo and Casey, the Raptors’ coach, disagreed on some rather essential points. This year, it seemed like a lock for that pattern to continue. Colangelo was removed as general manager, replaced by Masai Ujiri, who was emboldened with a five-year contract. Ujiri retained Casey, but did not extend his contract, which ends after this season. The situation still looked like a petri dish capable of growing more organizational dysfunction. Yet, there was Casey on Wednesday, punctuating a four-game winning streak by harping on the Raptors’ diminished defence. He has continued to coach to his beliefs, and the players have not sensed any interference from above.

Raptors’ Amir Johnson gives back to ‘the greatest fans in the world’ | Toronto Star

Johnson proved yet again Thursday night just how much he loves the fans who support him and his teammates, by throwing 70 of them a party at knight-themed dinner show Medieval Times. “It’s just a token of appreciation for my fans because we have the greatest fans in the world,” Johnson said before the show began, a black velvet cape trimmed with gold threads and sparkles draped around his hulking frame. “The fans are what makes our team.” It’s not the first time Johnson’s given back to his fans. This is the fourth year in a row that he’s thrown his “I Roll with Amir” party. And last September, he handed out free copies of Drake’s newest album to fans at Yonge and Dundas. He picked Medieval Times for this year’s party because he has fond memories of coming to the show as a child. “It looked a lot bigger when I was a kid,” said Johnson, now six-foot-nine.

Video: Raptors’ Kyle Lowry warned for flop against Sixers | The Point Forward – SI.com

The NBA issued Raptors guard Kyle Lowry a warning for flopping on Thursday. Lowry’s flop occurred in the second quarter of Toronto’s 125-114 home victory over Philadelphia on April 9. With a little under six minutes remaining before halftime and Toronto leading 50-45, Lowry fell backwards to the court while attempting to take a charge. Elliot Williams pushed the ball up in transition and Lowry prepared himself for contact outside the protected circle. Instead of being run down, though, Lowry slowly drifted backwards to the court because the collision never took place. Williams was able to twist his way around Lowry before laying off a pass to Thaddeus Young. No foul was called on the play.

New York Knicks: Revisiting the Failed Kyle Lowry Trade | Buckets Over Broadway

Hypothetical situations — like how a team would perform with Player X on them — are nearly impossible to predict, but it’s clear Lowry could have helped the Knicks. How much? They’d be playing meaningful games right now, likely with a playoff seed sewn up. Perhaps they could have even found their point guard for the next few years if Lowry re-signed this summer. Would a very good point guard and a playoff spot convince Carmelo Anthony to stay in New York? Would it be worth giving up a pick and a young wing player? All tough questions to answer, but nonetheless interesting to hypothesize when looking at how this season turned out.

12 Responses to “Morning Coffee – Fri, Apr 11”

  1. caccia

    Terrific interview with Salmons. I wonder which coaches he thought were subpar? I never even heard of Reggie Theus and Kenny Natt. When I read Coach Casey’s statements, they sometimes seem to be contradictory. Or maybe he is just learning as the season goes on? It’s really a whole new team from when he started.

    Reply
    • Marz

      Yeah I wouldn’t have read the article if not for this comment. Everyone should check it out:

      “Players want honesty. Just tell me what you want or what I’m not doing.
      You know what I’m saying? Just let me know. Don’t just hang me in the
      wind not knowing. I think they do a good job of that here. That’s a big
      deal.”

      Reply
  2. Colonel_Hapablapp

    Am I the only one not worried about our defence? Time and time again this season, we’ve shown to play to the level of the competition. Remember when we faced Atlanta and NO and got off to incredibly slow starts, and we thought that this was gonna be the case against OKC?? We can play defence against anybody, and can run and gun with anybody. We just cater ourselves to the competition. I think we’ll be fine; this is nothing to worry about.

    Reply
    • B_Leaf

      I was thinking the same thing. I was trying to figure out what all the fuss was about. I feel good about our D. I think every team has the odd poor night or the odd bad stretch in a game. For the Raptors I don’t see it any worse than that.
      We are 1 and 6 in OT games. In most of those games better D may have helped…but as I recall we have also been victim of some ridiculous late game 3 pointers that were made under some great coverage. We have also been victim of some nasty calls or non calls to that swayed the contest.

      Reply
    • jakdripr

      You’re probably right, but it’s still a bad habit that probably cost us the games in Cleveland and Sacramento. A good coach is never satisfied(just ask Popp) so I’m happy to hear Casey constantly dogging the boys. Particularly with the post season right around the corner and CHI breathing down our necks for that 3rd seed. The last thing we need is a loss to the bucks or sixers because we decided to play down to our competition.

      Reply
  3. Guest

    With guys like Amir and DeRozan who actually give this city props, I implore T-dot fans to enjoy the remaining ride and pump this city. Let’s go.

    Reply
  4. B_Leaf

    So much to like about this team. Just seems like everybody is doing their part and more. The starters, the bench, and the coaches, and management have put together a sustained run. With JV and TRoss growing into more significant roles in the future you have to like what we have here.

    Reply
  5. morgan c

    Holy shit. That story about Amir and Medieval Times is just too perfect. Amir is the FUCKING MAN!

    You just know for a fact he sits down at 8:59pm each Sunday and hangs on Khalesi’s every word… can totally see him geeking out, haha.

    Reply
  6. jakdripr

    When the Retro Jerseys come out i’ll definitely be picking up an Amir Jersey. After so many years of players just rejecting toronto it really warms my heart to see a player who definitely seems to care about the city and it’s fans. I hope he retires a raptor and can be the next coming of JYD.

    Reply

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