After a practice Dwane Casey described as just “so-so” on Wednesday, the Raptors head coach wondered aloud if his team’s 5-1 record in exhibition play was a root cause.
“We still have a lot of work to do. We practised today like ‘OK, we’ve arrived and you can already pencil in [playoffs].’ No. We’re nowhere near that.”
At the risk of going all Herm Edwards, you play to win the game and for a team that hasn’t amassed a ton of W’s the last two seasons, positive preseason momentum has more value to the Raptors than a veteran club like the Lakers (currently 0-6).
But there are just too many factors in exhibition play for Casey to ignore and records have a nasty tendency to reset before the start of the regular season.
“It’s practice,” Casey said. “Everybody’s not showing all their offence, they’re not playing their players the right minutes and neither are we. We can’t get carried away with it, even though I do like the fact that we’re trying to develop a winning personality.”
Casey was also more than willing to share an educated guess from major hoops media on where the Raptors will finish next season (hint: it wasn’t optimistic) in an attempt to both ground his players and motivate them.
“That right there tells us how much lack of respect the league has for us and how much we continue to have to go out and perform each and every day we walk on to the floor.”
Expect the Raptors to practice once more on Thursday in Toronto before flying out to Memphis for Friday’s game against the Grizzlies.
What’s In A Name?
The Raptors bench has been receiving some attention of late and for good reason. Toronto’s reserves have outscored their counterparts by 35 points over six preseason games and have been a big reason why the Raptors have that 5-1 record heading into their final exhibition matchup with the Grizzlies.
Amir Johnson mentioned after Monday’s win that John Lucas III, who appears poised to be another key member of that bench attack, could have a moniker brewing for that group of subs.
Doesn’t seem to have gotten too far past the idea stage yet though.
“I don’t know, we’re still thinking about it,” said Lucas at Wednesday’s practice. “I’m going back-and-forth on if I want to do it or not. We as a team? We are a unit, we are as one. There’s no two different teams.”
A very harmonious response, but resistance may prove futile if this bench unit can continue to come up big.
Just in case, submit your suggestions for bench nicknames below and we’ll try to float them Lucas’s way. Until then, we’ve got more video from Terrence Ross and assistant coaches Johnny Davis and Scott Roth below.