Big win. Bigger confidence boost.
That’s the takeaway from a 115-91 Raptors blowout victory over the visiting Jazz on Saturday at ACC.
Head coach Dwane Casey called both teams desperate for a win pregame, which was telling. This season is only a couple of weeks old, but the Raptors have struggled with consistency over a stretch of four losses in five games and it’s tough to envision a scenario where a loss against the winless Jazz would have been viewed as defensible.
Instead, the Raptors delivered a no-doubter that saw them keep the peddle to the floor for the entire game.
“No matter who you play, you’ve got to give it 48 [minutes],” Casey said post-game. “We started the game out and we ended it playing the right way and that’s what we’re looking for.”
Before Saturday, that “right way” had eluded the Raptors for complete games and you could see the frustration was rising. It turns out Saturday provided an opportunity to vent.
“We just needed to get our heads on straight, come out with some focus and take our anger out on somebody,” said Terrence Ross.
The Jazz were a factor. The team’s core of Enes Kanter, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors (I’ve typed “Favours” for every reference today) and injured rookie point guard Trey Burke could be a very good one down the line. But they need a lot of seasoning, which usually means a lot of hard won experience. Which means losses.
About the only downside for the Raptors on Saturday was Kyle Lowry sitting out of the second half with a sprained right ankle. Casey described it as a “tweak” post-game and said that Lowry could have returned had they needed him.
The score assured that they didn’t, and allowed Casey to give his backups more run. Given the team has played three straight back-to-backs, a half to experiment with combinations and see players in real time situations was a luxury for the Raptors coach.
“We haven’t had an opportunity to practice just because of four games in five nights and that kind of catches you… We’ve got some tough games with little practice time so we’ve got to make sure we take these opportunities to work on different things — defensive schemes, offensive sets — and win at the same time.”
The back-to-backs are done until December, but things ramp up this week with the Rockets and Grizzlies on the road, followed by the Bulls and Blazers at ACC.