Raptors come up short as the curse of Dwane Casey continues
Of course he made light of it, because that’s way Dwane Casey is. It’s a fluke thing anyway.
It was pointed out that the prevailing opinion is that he and the Detroit Pistons get jacked to face the Raptors because of his history with the franchise, but Casey downplayed any significance.
“Someone said something about getting hyped up (to play the Raptors),” Casey said Thursday. “We get a win, I’m hyped, no matter who it is. There’s nothing to that.
“I’ve been so many places. If you start counting and think you’ve got to play hard against this team and that team, you get confused. So it’s one of those things.”
Still, it remains a constant in this era of Raptors-Pistons games as Detroit registered a tight 108-106 victory before an audience announced at 19,548 at the Scotiabank Arena.
The Pistons had carried a five-game winning streak over Toronto into the game and were 8-3 against the Raptors since the start of the 2018-19 season, when Casey was let go as head coach of the Raptors and replaced by Nick Nurse.
It’s not a huge thing but it’s not nothing. And over the course of a long and, at times, tedious NBA regular season, having some piece of trivia to jazz up a few days gives fans something to chatter about.
Even if those involved would rather talk about just about anything else.
“They certainly play good and have played really good against us in different stretches, and we haven’t played as well,” Nurse said. “I don’t really have any explanation for it. We just need to do better.”
They weren’t any better and Nurse wasn’t around to witness the finish, ejected with about three minutes left in the third quarter for picking up two quick technical fouls arguing a foul call on Dalano Banton.
“I saw the replay, which probably wasn’t good for me to see,” Nurse said of the anger that precipitated his ejection.
The call did seem to be blown but the Raptors’ overreaction was probably more out of frustration for how poorly they had been playing to that point.
Out of sorts defensively and missing the shooting of the absent Fred VanVleet (knee) and OG Anunoby (finger), the Raptors played from behind all night.
Gary Trent Jr. struggled terribly, going 4-for-23 from the floor and while the Raptors made a run, getting within three with less than 15 seconds left, they couldn’t get a good look at a three-pointer to tie and they couldn’t tip in an intentionally missed free throw with less than a second left.
“Two of our better shooters, for sure,” Nurse said of VanVleet and Anunoby being out. “Just missing a bunch of scoring there, I think in general, playmaking, scoring.
“You can kind of throw Thad (Young, who missed the game with an illness) into that, too. He’s been in double digits off the bench, pretty reliable the last three games. Could have used that tonight, as well.”
Another subplot to the evening — one that will mean something in the future far more than Casey v. One Of His Old Teams — was the matchup between two members of what has become a tremendous NBA rookie class.
Scottie Barnes, chosen No. 4 by the Raptors, and Cade Cunningham, the first overall pick of the Pistons, are certainly going to be prominent in the rookie of the year discussion. While Barnes may have been named the conference player of the month Thursday, it was Cunningham who dominated in the game.