Dwane Casey Named Eastern Conference Coach Of The Month For November

Dwane Casey was rewarded for his team having the top record in their conference by being named the Eastern Conference's coach of the month for November.

Dwane Casey was rewarded for his team having the top record in their conference by being named the Eastern Conference’s coach of the month for November.

In a response that was expected, Casey shrugged off the personal award.

“I’d rather have won Friday night and last night,” Casey told the media in Sacramento.

The coach of the month award is the second for Casey during his tenure with the Toronto Raptors.

Casey is the first Raptors’ coach to win the award multiple times, joining Sam Mitchell (January, 2007) and Lenny Wilkens (April, 2002) as Toronto coaches who have won the award.

Losing DeMar DeRozan For A Month Might Be A Good Thing

The collective gasp at the Air Canada Centre when DeMar DeRozan crumpled to the court on Friday was noticeable all of the way up in the media gondola where I was sitting.

Then, when DeRozan writhed on the court as he was surrounded by teammates, an uncomfortable silence shifted into the arena as fans began to fear Toronto’s Iron Man might be seriously injured.

The immediate medical report during the game was that DeRozan had a groin injury. Then, Saturday afternoon word leaked that DeRozan had suffered a torn tendon in his left thigh.

After the game Toronto’s head coach, Dwane Casey, uttered his “next man up” mantra and that will be put to the test while DeRozan is out for probably at least a month.

“We gotta play, it’s next man up,” Lowry told reporters after the game against Dallas on Friday. “It’s a team. It’s not about one guy, it’s about every individual. So if anybody goes down, the next guy has gotta step up.”

As crazy as it may seem, the Toronto Raptors may not be in a horrible situation with their lone all-star sidelined.

Lou Williams is the current player of the week in the Eastern Conference and he’s averaging 17.2 points in only 22 minutes over his past 10 games. People will argue that DeRozan is one of Toronto’s top scorers – he’s leading the team in scoring at 19.4 points per game – but he’s also averaging a team-high 16.2 field goal attempts per game while only shooting 39% from the field.

Having DeRozan sidelined will also help Jonas Valanciunas see a bump from the 7.3 field goal attempts per game he has been averaging so far. Valanciunas sees the fewest touches of any Toronto starter and a big part of his development is getting more field goal attempts.

Casey likes having Williams come off the bench, so, while Williams may seem a bump in his minutes, it is likely that James Johnson will get the chance to start while DeRozan is sidelined. It was Johnson who was heralded earlier this month by fans as a better option in the starting five than Terrence Ross.

If James starts, Toronto will have two defenders in Ross and Johnson to harass teams and help make things even more intimidating for opponents on the defensive end.

While losing DeRozan due to an injury will be a tough adjustment for the Toronto Raptors, the reality is Toronto isn’t nearly as bad off as some fans initially worried when he was crumpled on the court Friday evening.

Observations From Toronto’s Locker Room After Losing To Dallas 106-102

Here are nine notes, observations and quotes from Toronto’s locker room after they lost 106-102 to Dallas:

  • There was a lot of cussing and complaining as the Raptors made their way up the tunnel into the locker room. The players were ornery after a tough loss.
  • You probably can’t tell via TV, but post-game media scrums are wild and crazy. More than 20 members of the media were squeezed around Kyle Lowry’s locker tonight trying to get prime position to get close enough for their recorders and cameras to pick up his comments after the game. I got a spot right next to Lowry – my apologies because you’ll probably see my ugly mug on TV or in video clips online – but I was sprayed by his cologne and I nearly tripped on his mountain of shoes. I hope you appreciate the sacrifices I made to secure audio for my Podcap.
  • Dwane Casey explained to me before the game what wrinkles Monta Ellis and Tyson Chandler bring to the Mavericks on the offensive end: “Dirk Nowitzki is the hub. You’ve got to pay attention to him. Everything they do centres around him whether or not you are not helping off of him. Rick (Carlisle) is one of the masters in designing plays where you pay if you tag or help off of him just for a split second. So, they’ve created other situations where you’re afraid to help. Monta (Ellis) is one of the best in the NBA in attacking the basket or pulling up for jump shots. With his speed he is always in attack mode on the offensive end which really is going to result in him being open because you’re hugged up to Dirk. We have to be disciplined tonight and really understand what we are doing in each and every situation. That and the lobs; they are probably the number one lob team in the league this season. With Tyson Chandler and Brandon Wright they have two guys who are going to the rim and screening, slipping and sprinting, not rolling, to the front of the rim. Our bigs are going to have to do a good job making sure they stay at the level and be disciplined not to step up or find themselves in a position where either big can get behind them, because if they do, Tyson (Chandler) and Brandon Wright are two athletic bigs who can really get to the rim if you’re not disciplined.”
  • Monta Ellis had a game-high 30 points while dishing out six dimes and picking up three steals. He was directly involved via scoring or an assist in 21 of the 51 field goals Dallas had. Impressive stuff.
  • Jalen Rose had some great stuff before the game on watching Drake perform live in Toronto when he was just starting out, how Toronto’s front office did Vince Carter dirty and he stuck by his claim that Sam Mitchell got into it with Vince Carter. Click here to listen to Rose’s media scrum.
  • Rick Carlisle on Dwane Casey: “First off, I give Bryan Colangelo a lot of credit for hiring Dwane (Casey) because there were a lot more established coaches he passed on. He really targeted Dwane as a guy he knew could take a group of younger guys, mold them, instil a defensive philosophy, and a defensive disposition. The very first year their record wasn’t great but their defence did a complete 180. From there they built it up each year. Dwane has earned the right to have a team this good. He’s done a great job building it up to this point. One of the things about guys who have a background as defensive gurus is that they study so many different things on opponents that they are trying to stop. These guys always have a mind flooded with different ideas to try and implement on the offensive end. The other thing is Dwane has really helped to develop his younger guys. (DeMar) DeRozan, (Kyle) Lowry. Ross is turning the corner this year. He is a really good defensive player. They key thing is they have a bunch of two-way players who can play offense and defence. That’s how you build a team that is built to win in the playoffs.”
  • Toronto had 17 turnovers and only 17 assists. That clearly won’t cut it against an elite team like the Dallas Mavericks. On the flip side, Dallas had 27 dimes and only turned the ball over eight times.
  • Greivis Vasquez after the loss: “We just need to continue to grind. It’s not the end of the world. We lost a game. So what? On to the next one and we will just continue to get better. We have to defend better. We have to rebound better. We have to improve our transition defence. We need to do a lot of different things better. But we are still, what? 13-3? That’s a pretty good record to me.”
  • Jameer Nelson and Kyle Lowry spent some time catching up in the tunnel after the game.

Podcap: Raptors Fall Short Against Mavericks

Here’s audio from Dwane Casey, Kyle Lowry, Patrick Patterson, Greivis Vasquez and Rick Carlisle after Toronto’s 106-102 loss to Dallas.

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Rick Carlisle Praised Dwane Casey For What He Has Accomplished With The Toronto Raptors

Dwane Casey and Rick Carlisle have a lot of history together after winning an NBA Championship with the Dallas Mavericks, so it wasn’t surprising to hear Carlisle rave about what Casey has accomplished in Toronto.

What was a bit surprising, though, was hearing Carlisle start off by giving Bryan Colangelo a lot of praise for having the guts to hire Casey.

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Dwane Casey’s Scouting Report On The Dallas Mavericks

Dwane Casey explained how the Dallas Mavericks’ focal point on offense is Dirk Nowitzki, but he explained how Tyson Chandler and Monta Ellis and also play large roles.

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Catching Up With Jalen Rose

Jalen Rose was in rare form chatting with the media about his time with the Toronto Raptors, breaking his hand during a game, Sam Mitchell and Vince Carter.

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Director Michael Hamilton Talked About His Steve Nash Documentary “NASH”

I was able to chat with Michael Hamilton about his Steve Nash documentary called NASH.

Some of the topics we covered during this Podcast include:

  • Why he picked Steve Nash as the target for his latest documentary
  • Something he learned about Nash while filming this documentary
  • Using the story of Zeus making Sisyphus roll a boulder up a mountain for eternity as a comparison to Nash constantly fighting through adversity
  • How he got Nash’s siblings involved with this documentary
  • Arranging cameos in the documentary from Ron Howard, Barack Obama and Owen Wilson

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Observations From Toronto’s Locker Room After Beating Phoenix 104-100

Here are six observations, notes and quotes from Toronto’s locker room after they beat Phoenix 104-100:

  • It’s amazing the amount of respect the players have for Doug Smith. After the game, Smith was able to pull DeMar DeRozan aside and he got some quotes from him that the rest of us media folks couldn’t get. Yet another example of why Smith is one of the best in the business and why I have a ton of respect for him.
  • Amir Johnson spent a lot of time after the game soaking his left ankle. To me, it’s clear he’s gutting out minutes right now. He’s a warrior for the Raptors and his hustle and desire is something that rubs off on his teammates.
  • I’ve learned the trick to chatting with Kyle Lowry is asking solid questions. If you throw lame or generic questions at him he’ll give a brief answer. But, if you ask something that piques his interest or gives him a chance to shed light on something, he’ll likely give you a good quote back. Some media bristle at this, but personally, I like how Lowry challenges us media grunts to step our games up.
  • Dwane Casey on the Phoenix Suns getting hot from beyond the arc: “Again, it’s not a mystery that this is one of the best three-point shooting teams in the league. They can get back in any game just like that. That’s they way they’ve been for two years now. So, nobody should be surprised that they are going to come down (the court) and pull-up (and shoot). It seems like we were (surprised).”
  • Weird vibe in Toronto’s locker room tonight. On the one hand, the team escaped with a win to push their record to 12-2. However, it was clear talking with the players they were grumpy with choking up a big lead in the fourth quarter. None of the usual joking around between teammates that normally happens after wins. More of a somber, business approach tonight once the media got into the locker room.
  • The shoe game of Greivis Vasquez, DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross makes me jealous. I wish I had a fraction of their kicks.

Pocap: Raptors Hang On To Beat Suns 104-100

Here’s audio from Dwane Casey, Kyle Lowry and Lou Williams after Toronto hung on to beat Phoenix 104-100.

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Catching Up With Jeff Hornacek

Jeff Hornacek talked with the media about what he learned while playing for legendary coach Jerry Sloan, coaching a team with a couple siblings and he talked about Tyler Ennis’ rookie season.

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In The Scrum With Dwane Casey

Dwane Casey chatted with the media tonight about Phoenix possessing match-up issues, getting his message through to players despite the team’s great record, battling through adversity, Lou Williams being named Player of the Week, finding a scoring balance with a lot of talented scorers on the roster and he learned a new word.

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Lou Williams’ Media Session After Being Named Eastern Conference Player Of The Week

Lou Williams is normally a shy, reserved player, so it was great to hear him open up about being named Eastern Conference Player of the Week, the doubt that crept into his mind while he was rehabbing from knee surgery, his ability to draw fouls and the winning atmosphere in Toronto’s locker room that was apparent early in the season.

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Catching Up With Jabari Parker

Jabari Parker joked with me about the “false fans” sleeping on the Milwaukee Bucks this season, learning from Jason Kidd and being compared to Carmelo Anthony.

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