Dwane Casey believes in his troops.
Watching Drake reload on Big Kendrick after the whistle is the stuff of legend, reminiscent of Spike Lee's fixation with the Knicks. As far as it becoming a distraction, Coach Casey of the Raptors sees nothing wrong with Drake's antics. In fact, you might notice coach and mascot exchanging pleasantries several times over the course of a game, beginning at tip-off. Casey's assessment of the altercation leaned heavily on the side of his running mate: "I love Drake. Believe me whatever he said to Perk, I have heard a lot worse in other arenas to me."
As for the game itself, or the series in total, Casey believes his team has the upper hand regardless of the Game 1 loss. In the closing seconds, reserve guard Fred Van Vleet tossed up a three point attempt with the Raptors down a single point only to rim out. Trapped in the cerebellum of Raptor fans are moments where the team should have cushioned their lead. The notion of a Raptors falling behind during late game lapses became all too synonymous with the team's culture.
"Vince Carter at the buzzer" in the 2001 playoffs and Chris Bosh-led teams carried this history of trauma into the new Millenium, well before a "struggle theory" took its psychic toll over the city of Toronto. One person who appears to be unaffected by superstition is the man in charge, Dwane Casey. He believes his team only came up short due to missed opportunities and turnovers in Game 1.
He added: "I think we're a better team, we just didn't make the shots down the stretch. I know it sounds simplistic, but we had our open looks, had our opportunities that we didn't cash in on. And some other things we can clean up defensively, that we can do a better job with also."
The Raptors have a shot at redemption this Thursday at 6 P.M. in Toronto.