The Toronto Raptors are going to have a bit more representation at All-Star Weekend.
With Sunday’s win against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Raptors have punched Dwane Casey’s ticket to L.A. for Feb. 18. Casey and his staff will coach Team LeBron in the All-Star Game, going head-to-head with Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan on Team Curry.
The win pushes the Raptors’ record to 33-15, which is four games ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers for second in the Eastern Conference. Those teams have a combined seven left before the Feb. 4 date at which coaches are locked in, so the Cavs can’t catch Toronto. The All-Star coaching nod goes to the coaches of the teams with the best record in their respective conferences, even with the tweaked All-Star format. And because Brad Stevens coached a year ago and back-to-back appearances aren’t allowed, the Raptors clinching second in the East through Feb. 4 gives Casey the nod. Admittedly, this is a bit of a convoluted way to explain how Casey got the honor, but the rules are what they are.
Casey will become the first coach in Raptors history to coach at the All-Star Game, which seems fitting given that he holds just about every other marquee distinction for Raptors coaches. It’s also a nice bit of recognition for the job he’s doing tweaking the team’s system to a mode that is not his instinct, fostering buy-in from the stars and bringing along the young talent on the roster at the same time. He’s inextricable from the best run of success in Raptors history, and it’s nice that he’ll get a moment of acknowledgment for that.