Toronto’s Culture Reset

Linked below are two good reads on Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey and the adjustments the team has made this season. Last season after being swept by the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Raptors GM Masai Ujiri infamously announced the Raptors needed a “culture reset.” Ujiri’s decree read like the final nail in the coffin for Casey’s tenure in Toronto, but when the Raptors braintrust huddled together in the days that followed there came an agreement: a culture change didn’t necessitate a personnel charge. The Raptors’ iso-heavy offensive attack scored efficiently in the regular season, but faltered in the playoffs. It was time for Toronto’s schemes to catch up to the “Space & Pace” style the rest of the league was deploying (a trend Casey’s defensive schemes in Dallas could be credited for spawning).

“We felt like we were better than a 4-0 sweep,” Webster said. “It was really just Masai’s challenge to all of us. Let’s take a look at what we’ve done, and let’s be proud of how we’ve gotten here, but if we really wanna be a championship contending team, we need to make some changes.”

The Raptors trusted Dwane Casey to remake his team without rebuilding it (LINK)

“Trust me,” Casey replied. “We’re going to need this at some point.” The Mavericks spent 10 minutes on zone slides at every practice and deployed the zone for an entire preseason game in Chicago. Still, they used the zone sparing during the regular season, until the Finals against Miami. The Mavs had no one to match up with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Dallas was too old, too slow and too small in the backcourt. “It was finally time to whip out that f—— zone,” recalls former Mavs guard Jason Terry. Dallas alternated between a 2–3 and a man-to-man defense in which they sank guards to the elbows and bigs to the boxes. “Miami ran iso like 80% of the time with LeBron and D-Wade,” Terry recounts. “You beat me, here’s another guy waiting. You beat him, here’s Tyson Chandler waiting. There was nowhere to isolate and nowhere to kick out. Remember, they didn’t have Ray Allen then. LeBron had to shoot jump shots. And what was LeBron’s weakness at the time? Eighteen foot jump shots.”

Dwane Casey’s journey from NCAA castaway to Raptors’ all-star coach (LINK)

For more on Casey:
-Dwane Casey Q&A (LINK)
-Raptors “Dead” series (LINK)
-Casey leans on his staff (LINK)
-Raptors embrace offensive adjustment after playoff disappointments (LINK)
-February 2016 Vertical Podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski (LINK)

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