The Toronto Raptors keep finding new ways to win and lose playing ugly basketball. Should Toronto go on to lose this series, Game 4 in Miami may be the one they regret the most. It was another winnable game that went into overtime when it shouldn’t. Yes, both teams were without their bigs and had to make adjustments. No, Miami didn’t play that much better than the Raptors but they did even the series at two rather than being in the hole three games to one.
There will be plenty of talk as to the reasons behind the loss and there are many. DeMar DeRozan not being able to hit a basket going 4/17 and worse, 1/4 from the free throw line. Kyle Lowry doing everything positive except scoring as he went 2/11 including 0/6 from the 3 pt. line. The defence overall was great as it only allowed 83 points during regulation time, but you can’t keep letting Dwyane “yes that’s really how I spell my first name” Wade score whenever he feels like it. With so many issues last night, Coach Casey was not the reason why the Raptors lost, but he didn’t help them win either.
— Lindsay Dunn (@LindsayDunnTV) May 2, 2016
Dwayne “now that’s a proper spelling’ Casey is not a horrible coach that should be paraded on Bay Street tarred-and-feathered. Far from it. He has earned himself another contract and I am sure Masai Ujiri will resign him. But just like everyone else, Casey needs to gain more experience coaching in the playoffs so that he too can continue to grow and improve. Now Casey isn’t responsible for his all-star’s missing shots but he is responsible for those horrible last second play calls and for trying to match the other coach’s moves when he doesn’t have too.
Twice in this series the Toronto Raptors have had the opportunity to win a game with the last shot and failed. Both times they inbounded the ball with about 10 seconds left. In one game Lowry dribbled the ball up court, in the other it was Cory Joseph. Precious seconds tick off the clock as there is no cutting, no passing and no ball movement whatsoever. Just one person dribbling behind the 3 pts line, dribbling until the clock was down. A pick is set, the PG predictably runs around the screen and is forced to jack up a long, heavily contested jump shot. In either case, they don’t come close to going in. It has to make you wonder what they talk about for the other 27 seconds of the timeout, because calling and explaining a proper play isn’t it.
this just in: dwayne casey's fourth quarter play used in the last seconds pic.twitter.com/fqJTbnDRzI
— jess (@jessguyatt15) May 10, 2016
What is really odd though is that they have some wonderful set plays that we have seen from time outs in the past. Why do they continually falter into these ISO plays that always seem to be unsuccessful? This just frustrates fans to no end. Casey isn’t the only one to blame here as most of these play calls have options and the player on the floor has to make that split-second decision to what he feels is best. But with no movement happening in the other positions, this offence becomes stagnant and easily defended. It isn’t a simple solution to say drive it to the basket, either. The Heat even without Whiteside played some incredible interior defence. They were able to block the Raptors on many occasions and therefore not a guaranteed success. But what driving to the basket does is create movement, it creates space as the defence collapses to the rim, it provides a better chance for an open shot from the outside when you drive and kick, just like they did against Washington this year.
So Casey and the Raps have it in them, but they are not executing like they should down the stretch. It is like a lack of confidence is suffocating the entire team down the stretch of a game. The same appears with Casey’s rotation. He gives the other team too much credit as Casey has tried to match up with what Indianapolis and now Miami are doing. Midway through the fourth quarter for example, the Raptors have gone up 7 as Udonis Haslem or any other Miami big for that matter, had plenty of difficulty with Bismack Biyombo. Miami’s coach goes small taking Haslem out and immediately Casey takes out Biyombo.
It’s not that keeping Biyombo in the lineup would have guaranteed them the game, but you should go with what’s working until it stops. Take an example from Golden State who have not only won the most games in a season but seem to usually win by double digits as well. It may seem simple enough but if something is working, keeping doing it. Do it until the other team or something else stops you. That is why Thompson and Curry sometimes have 20+ points in a quarter. That is how you stretch a lead into an easy victory. The Raptors have not been able to do anything easy in these playoffs and as good a coach that Casey is, much of that falls on his shoulders. Hopefully he can stop over thinking things and find a way to help the Raptors advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
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