There was a clearing of the air between Dwane Casey and James Johnson where they finally settled on which Pokemon character holds the greatest power, their stance on global warming, and what the ending of Lost in Translation really meant.
See, the story begins with Dwane Casey bastardizing James Johnson’s playing time despite the man having a really good season, and basically doing everything really well on the court. In fact, he might just be the Raptors best player this season, which surprisingly didn’t mean more, but less, playing time for him, and somehow earned him a talking-to in the teacher’s office (auto-playing video):
“I talk to James every day,” Casey had said, dodging questions about the pep talk after Johnson mentioned it on the team broadcast post-game.
“It’s a family matter,” the Raptors’ forward added following practice a couple days later. “We’re going to keep it like that.”
As the losses mounted and the post-game press conferences got more and more uncomfortable, we finally caught a glimpse of why James Johnson was benched against Detroit (the team he had arguably his best game against earlier in the season).
Let’s start with Casey’s thought that Johnson need to be more disciplined on the floor:
“James’ strength is also his weakness. He feels like he can help on a lot of things and he gets himself in trouble, but I thought he played with a lot of discipline and that was the most important thing because he’s probably one of the most talented guys on the team in certain matchups and can fit in certain situations for us.
“The key for him is to be disciplined at both ends of the floor.”
Discipline, eh, implying that James Johnson (
arguably clearly our best defender) is over-helping and getting himself and the team into trouble. The context to the above quote was provided by Johnson himself:
“It’s about staying on that man, instead of trying to help and over-help. Sometimes my greatest attribute can be my greatest weakness because I always want to help somebody.”
This is clear lip service from James Johnson, because he must know in his mind that there are far guiltier parties who abandon defensive responsibility trying to cheat (Lowry being the worst culprit). I’m not saying Johnson is perfect, but he is not the problem with the Raptors defense and does not deserve to be singled out publicly. I’m thinking James Johnson figured that he needs playing time so he may as well say what Casey wants to hear, and become a pseudo-scapegoat for the Dwane Casey’s ridiculous defense. It’s like an innocent prisoner reading a confession in exchange for a lighter sentence.
But wait, a public admission of guilt isn’t enough. Johnson was isolated in practice by having specific drills run for him so he could stay in his zone, said Casey:
“We worked on drills where you have to be disciplined,’’ added Casey. “We put him in situations where he’s going to be guarding guys down the stretch and into the playoffs who are very lethal offensive players and if you make a mistake in those situations, they’ll make you play.
“It’s something we continue to work with, talk to him about and hopefully it’ll get better.”
Can you imagine what Johnson’s thinking at this point? “Hmm…Ross, Lowry, Vasquez, and DeRozan get torched on every other possession and it never gets mentioned, but I’m being chastised for something I’m not even sure about”.
Again, it’s great that they’re running drills for Johnson, but the hypocrisy of Casey not doing the exact same for every member of the starting five is surreal. Or worse, maybe he has worked with every player individually and simply failed to make them better since we’re winding down the season and they all suck defensively.