The 24 hours after DeMar DeRozan’s first playoff game, a loss, were quiet ones.
“I sat in my room the rest of the day,” DeRozan said. “I didn’t leave the room. I didn’t turn the TV on. I didn’t watch no game. I just cleared my mind. Just understand it was my first playoff game.”
Shooting 3-for-13 against the Brooklyn Nets in a 14-point postseason debut, DeRozan had plenty of possessions to replay in his mind. The game irked him so much, he almost returned to the Toronto Raptors practice court for a late-night workout before a cooler head prevailed.
“I thought about it,” DeRozan said. “I really thought about it. About 1 a.m. I was going to come back but I was like, don’t put too much pressure on myself. Just get my rest, regroup today. We got two days until we play so just get ready. I try not to think so much or stress myself out but just relax.”
With the Raptors for each of the last five seasons that they have failed to make the postseason, DeRozan wants this badly.
A first-time All-Star this season, DeRozan is known for the long hours he spends locked in the gym during the summer. His default reaction is to return to an empty court after a game when things haven’t gone as he had hoped. That he was able to convince himself to stay home, turn off his brain and rest is a sign of his continued growth and maturity.
Getting that first game out of the way was big for DeRozan. Now that it’s over, letting it go is the next step.
After breaking down film on Sunday morning, both Raptors head coach Dwane Casey and his players were confident in the things they could correct. With 19 turnovers, and three starters (DeRozan, Terrence Ross and Amir Johnson) limited in Game 1, there was optimism over Toronto being within one point with four minutes remaining in the game.
“As bad as we played yesterday… it was still a close game,” DeRozan said. “They hit some tough shots at the end. If we cleaned that up, definitely cleaned up the turnovers, that would be a different game. But we’ve got to forget that game and get ready for Game 2.”
The Raptors know they need to help DeRozan be in a better position to score. While Brooklyn made it difficult for him to get the ball where he wanted to operate, Casey expects his team to make the necessary adjustments to give their leading scorer more room to work with on Tuesday.
“We’ve got to do a better job of giving him space to react,” Casey said. “The screens have to be more physical, more meaningful than just going over, hoping he hits me. We’ve got to be as physical as they were with us on their screens. They got pieces of us on their screen and we didn’t do that. Our big guys have to set man-size screens for him to get open. But he’s got to do a better job, [his] preparation to use the screens has to be better.”
Although DeRozan had a tough time in the series opener, Lowry isn’t worried about that it will carry over to Game 2. Shrugging off questions singling out DeRozan’s performance, he gave his vote of confidence.
“He’s fine,” Lowry said. “He’s watching film right now actually. I’m positive he’s going to bounce back. He’s really focused. Yeah, a rough shooting night. Sometimes it happens. Sometimes the ball just don’t go in the hole.”
DeRozan said he needs to find the balance between scoring and facilitating. The coaching staff told him he was too passive while trying to get teammates involved in Game 1. As the series continues, DeRozan wants to up his aggressiveness on both ends of the floor while continuing to strike the balance between asserting himself and getting others involved.
“You’ve got to pick and choose your spots,” DeRozan said. “Don’t force nothing. Let everything come to you.”