After a disappointing blowout loss to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night, the Toronto Raptors were back on the practice court Thursday afternoon. Preparing for the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday night, it was a practice that began by going over film clips of mistakes made the night before.
There were a lot of clips to look at.
Such is life when the postseason is out of reach and the priority is playing rookies.
In addition to Dwane Casey speaking with the media about Wednesday’s game in Boston, Andrea Bargnani also spoke for the first time since the team announced that he is expected to miss the remainder of the NBA season with an avulsion sprain of the right elbow.
The injury involves the same ligament that caused Bargnani to miss 26 games over December and January. After an extremely unsuccessful season, it is clear that Bargnani is frustrated with both the injury and the way his seventh season has gone.
“I did my exam monday, in the morning,” Bargnani said. “It’s the same ligament, different injury. I didn’t have much luck this season, none at all.”
His coach agreed with him.
“It’s unfortunate that the young man can’t catch a break, no pun intended but it’s one of those things where it’s one injury after another…” Casey said. “It’s legit injuries and it’s tough. He’s missed so many games and he’s been a big part of what we’re trying to do and it would be such a big help as far as stretching the floor for Rudy and DeMar and we need that.”
Bargnani said it has been tough to stay positive through all of the setbacks of the season.
“It was a very unlucky season,” he said. “I don’t even know if I played like 10 straight games because every time I played I got an injury. It was very frustrating.”
While the team expects him to be sidelined for the rest of the season, Bargnani didn’t want to say that he wouldn’t be back, instead saying he knows only what we know and will continue to rehab and return whenever he can.
“It’s frustrating just for the fact that I wasn’t able to play at my best,” he explained. “I wasn’t in a position to play good for all of my injuries. It’s really frustrating for that. This kind of stuff happens. I’m going to keep working to be back stronger next year.”
Rookie woes in Boston
It’s pretty clear that part of playing rookies extended minutes means working with them through their mistakes and being patient as they learn their way, especially against veteran teams like the Celtics.
While this is a tough part of the growth process for any coach to sit through, Casey explained that it’s a necessity when those young players are a part of the future for a franchise.
“It’s a two-edged sword,” he said. “Everybody is clamouring for young guys to play and unfortunately there’s veteran players in the league. There’s so much to learn. We knew that with Jonas. He’s making progress. When you’re playing with a veteran player like that, not only is your what you do defensively is important, but your spacing. If you’re one or two steps off a veteran player like Garnett, knows how to zone up…it takes the other team totally out of their offensive sets there’s so much that goes into that. That’s why it’s hard to play rookies extended minutes, but we’ve got to. He’s a big part of what we’re doing in the future. The only thing he’s going to do is learn. It’s painful sometimes, to play rookies big minutes, but we’ve got to do it.”
With the news that Bargnani will likely be out until the end of the season, there is an opportunity for reserve rookie Quincy Acy to return to the team. Acy is currently on assignment with the Bakersfield Jam.
“We talked about that as an organization,” Casey said. “Bryan and I talked about it. We want Quincy to get some full games under his belt and then we’ll bring him back toward the end of it. He needs to play big minutes. Now to play he, Terrence and Valanciunas is a little much. That’s the hard thing. He’s going to play some full games down there then come back and try to integrate him into what we’re doing here the last 10, 12 games.”