The Raptors were back on the practice court on Thursday – a January rarity for Dwane Casey and his team during a month of the schedule loaded with back-to-backs and unforgiving travel.
“Practices are precious,” said Casey on Thursday. “This is the second one we’ve had [this week] and it’s going to help us. Going into a [hotel] ballroom and walking through stuff as a young team just doesn’t simulate the game speed and the veteran savvy of a team like Boston or tomorrow night like Portland.”
Casey said he treated Thursday’s practice as he did with many days of the team’s condensed training camp — stripping things down with a focus on teaching. With last night’s 96-73 blowout loss to the Celtics still fresh on the Raptors’ minds, bringing the required level of intensity for a full game was a focal point.
“Every day is a practice day for us. Whether it’s a shootaround or, unfortunately,some of our games have been teaching moments,” said Casey. “We’ve got to extend the competitive spirit and the competitive edge past two-and-a-half quarters… No matter who’s on the court, whether Andrea’s with us, Jerryd Bayless or whoever it is, the guys in uniform have to extend that competitive spirit past two-and-a-half quarters.
Casey singling out those two injured players wasn’t by accident, as the status of both Bargnani (left calf strain) and Bayless (left ankle sprain) seems relatively unchanged heading into Friday’s matchup with the Blazers (7PM, TSN2, FAN590), where the Raptors aim to stop a six-game losing streak.
Bayless went through a second straight practice with the team, but he’s not 100 per cent yet according to Casey. How the ankle responds after a full practice tonight will be key and an update is expected following the morning shootaround.
The news on Bargnani seems to be a lot easier to decipher. The big man did put in some work in the weight room and took some flat-footed shots around the rim after practice, but did not work with his teammates and remains officially listed as day-to-day.
With Casey saying there was no scheduled date for his return, his availability for Friday seems doubtful, but keep an eye on his ability to practice with the team Saturday in Los Angeles, where the Raptors begin a four-game West Coast road trip against the Clippers on Sunday.
More video from Bayless, Ed Davis and Gary Forbes below…