A Need to Rebound

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Dwane Casey Returns to Toronto

Raptors Lose Second Straight in Dwane Casey’s Return to Toronto

It was a bittersweet night in the Scotiabank Arena as the Toronto Raptors welcomed the Detroit Pistons to town.

It may be early in the season, but the atmosphere around the Scotiabank Arena was slightly different on this Wednesday evening. As the Detroit rolled in to Toronto, so did their new head coach Dwane Casey. A familiar place around these parts, Casey was Toronto’s bench boss since 2011, helping revitalize the franchise, leading them back to the playoffs, and aiding in the creation of one of the Eastern Conference’s powerhouses. In the process, he would capture the 2018 NBA Coach of the Year award shortly after being fired by the organization.

“I left here with my head high and did what I was asked to do, to take this program . . . I know revisionist history and everyone wants to take credit for the wins, and the losses is an orphan,” said Casey, addressing the Toronto media on Wednesday. “I’ll take all the losses but I know what we started with, how it was built, what was built and how it got there. I take total pride in that.”

A game that the Pistons wanted to win for their coach, Detroit stormed back against an undermanned Raptors team in the second half, battling back from a 19-point deficit to pick up a win at the buzzer. With under two seconds remaining in regulation, the ball was inbounded to Reggie Bullock who went onto finish off the game with a buzzer beating basket to give the Pistons a slim 106-104 victory.

From the outside looking in, it’s clear the sort of difference that Casey has already made on this upstart Pistons squad

“Coach Casey has this calming effect. He knows it’s a journey, it’s a long process. You don’t win the East in half a season,” said backup point guard Ish Smith before the tip. “But his sayings, his patience, his peace about everything – it’s very encouraging for our team. We get a little frustrated because we want instant gratification, but he knows it’s a journey and I think we’re getting it.”

On the Raptors side, Toronto has now fallen in two straight contests after starting the season firing on all cylinders. A 12-1 start is now at 12-3, which certainly means that there is no reason to panic, especially immediately following a heartbreaking defeat.

For the Raptors, the real test will start in April as this team will only truly be evaluated come playoff time.

Until then, the Raptors will continue working on their overall team chemistry, slowly integrating Kawhi Leonard in everything that they do. Otherwise, it’s all about health. CJ Miles has suffered an injury that will keep him out for at least a week. Norman Powell is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury, and Danny Green left tonight’s game with back spasms.

Meanwhile, a lot can be said about the play of one Pascal Siakam.

Now, in his third year in the league, Siakam has shown the potential to turn into one of the game’s breakout stars. Capturing player of the week honours, Siakam has averaged 19.4 points over his last seven games.

“Definitely a cool moment,” commented Siakam on the player of the week nod.. “It just gets you to continue to work hard, you know, you don’t want to stop anymore because you’re getting recognized and your hard work is paying off, and you just wonder what level you can get to.”

There is clearly still a lot of figuring out left on this Raptors team, but despite two straight losses, they continue to head in the right direction.

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