Raptors prepping for return punch
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.