Rap­tors prep­ping for re­turn punch

Calgary Sun - - SPORTS - MIKE GANTER mgan­ter@post­media.com @Mike_Gan­ter

Up 1-0 in a play­off se­ries is for­eign ter­ri­tory for Dwane Casey and his Rap­tors, but they are well ac­quainted with the other side of that equa­tion.

Given that, they have a firm grasp of what they can ex­pect from the Wash­ing­ton Wizards in Tues­day’s Game 2. At least they hope they do.

“It’s like I told our guys, (Tues­day’s) game is go­ing to be one of the tough­est we’ve played, just be­cause of the fact we knew how we felt los­ing Game 1, how des­per­ate we come out af­ter Game 1, and they’re go­ing to be no dif­fer­ent,” Casey said. “They’re a tal­ented team, well-coached team, they’re not your typ­i­cal eight-seed, and they’re go­ing to come out breath­ing fire. And we’ve got to do the same, we’ve got to come and pro­tect home, we’ve done it all year, and we’ve got to do it with a sense of ur­gency and a tough­ness it’s go­ing to take to win Game 2, af­ter go­ing up 1-0.

"As we know, we haven’t been in this po­si­tion very much, so we’ve just got to go back on how we felt in Game 2 af­ter los­ing Game 1. “

If the Rap­tors have learned one thing in their fifth con­sec­u­tive year in the play­offs, it is that ev­ery game in a se­ries is dif­fer­ent from the last one. Only rarely is there carry over, par­tic­u­larly in a se­ries in­volv­ing two rel­a­tively evenly matched teams like this one, be­cause the ad­just­ments are con­stant.

The Rap­tors won Game 1 be­cause when the Wizards were more in­tent on stop­ping the two-headed mon­ster that is Kyle Lowry and De­Mar DeRozan. The veteran Rap­tors moved the ball to the shoot­ers left open be­cause of that ex­tra at­ten­tion they were re­ceiv­ing and were re­warded with more than enough of­fence.

Scott Brooks and his Wizards have now seen the Rap­tors not named Lowry and DeRozan beat them and will make an ad­just­ment.

Whether that means dou­bling down on the stop-theRap­tors-big-duo tac­tic or eas­ing off a bit, only Brooks will know. But it’s a safe bet Game 2 is go­ing to be sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fer­ent than Game 1.

DeRozan talked in ad­vance of Game 1 about the Rap­tors “swag be­ing at an all-time high.”

He wasn’t just talk­ing about him­self and Lowry. In fact that “swag” or con­fi­dence, if you will, that he talks of starts with he and Lowry in the way they han­dle things when teams try to limit them of­fen­sively and it trick­les down to ev­ery mem­ber of Casey’s ro­ta­tion.

“It gives them con­fi­dence,” Casey said of Lowry and DeRozan will­ingly giv­ing the ball up to which ever team­mate happens to be the most open, lit­er­ally telling them to shoot the ball.

“When you throw me the ball, I can score, I can shoot it. You’re giv­ing me the green light to score,” Casey said of the mind-set. “That’s kinda the rea­son we tried to in­still the of­fense we did this year. It was to have that men­tal­ity. We’ve seen teams try to take those two guys out and now they’re em­brac­ing it. They’ve been em­brac­ing it all year. So, it’s given those other guys con­fi­dence, whether it’s Delon Wright shoot­ing a three, Serge shoot­ing a three, whether it’s Fred Van Vleet shoot­ing a three, what­ever. When the ball gets swung around to them, they’re ready to pull the trig­ger.”

So the Wizards or the Cleve­land Cava­liers or even the Golden State War­riors can line up op­po­site Toronto and try to shut them down by lim­it­ing their two big­gest scor­ers but it doesn’t work be­cause all sea­son the Rap­tors have pre­pared not just Lowry and DeRozan for that sit­u­a­tion but the guys around them.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.