With the Toronto Raptors sitting at 4-19 going into Friday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks, Rick Carlisle spoke about the state of the Toronto Raptors, his former assistant Dwane Casey and Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo.
It was a given that the Mavericks head coach would voice his support for his counterpart in Toronto. With Casey managing things on the defensive end, the Mavericks won an NBA Championship in 2011.
“Casey’s a great coach and he’s a champion, so I’m sure they’ll stay the course,” Carlisle said.
Carlisle pointed to the tough breaks the team has had to start the season and cautioned that the Mavericks must be ready for the Raptors and not take them lightly because of their record.
“They’ve got a young team and they’re beat up with a lot of injuries,” he said. “They’re extremely dangerous. They had Brooklyn down 15 points in the game the other night. This franchise is a lot healthier than it may appear from the won-loss record.”
In addition to throwing his support behind Casey, Carlisle voiced his support of Colangelo and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment chairman/minority owner Larry Tannenbaum.
“They got a great young coach and they got one of the best GM’s in the league, so you ask me my opinion, that’s my opinion,” Carlisle said. “And they got a great owner who I think sees the big picture. Larry Tanenbaum’s as good as it gets and I’m not concerned.”
Carlisle also spoke about how injuries were hurting the Raptors, something Casey and members of the team have been trying to avoid doing, not wanting to be accused of making excuses for their disastrous start.
“Casey’s a great coach and he’s a champion, so I see everybody here staying the course and continuing to work with their young guys not only to get them better but get them healthy. A third of their scoring is out of the lineup right now.”
While the team will be without Andrea Bargnani and Kyle Lowry for the immediate future, Alan Anderson will return to the lineup tonight after missing the previous 17 games with a partially-torn plantar fascia in his left foot.
Anderson said he did not think there would be any type of restriction for him tonight, but did point out that his conditioning would need some time to get back to normal. After Friday morning’s shootaround, Anderson spoke about the things he was able to observe about the team during his time on the bench. He said the biggest takeaway is that the team isn’t where they need to be defensively.
“Our defense isn’t consistent as it can be and it should be,” he said. “We always, for some reason, we’re playing three quarters, three-and-a-half quarters and we disappear. So I think my experience and a couple more guys getting healthy, we can sustain that and help us out some more.”
Anderson also said that chemistry within the team is not the roadblock this season. Still, there has been something keeping them group from being able to string together a full 48 minutes of quality basketball.
“Usually you’ll say you got guys distant from others, guys don’t get along, you’re going to have that reason,” Anderson explained. “But we don’t have that reason. We have guys that get along. We don’t have any problems with the team or nothing like that. Everybody gets along off the court as well as on the court but for some reason it’s just not like that chemistry that we’re having and that togetherness as far as talking and helping each other out, it doesn’t sustain for the whole four quarters. We got periods of time, but that doesn’t help.”
In the absence of Bargnani, it’s looking like Ed Davis will get the start alongside Jonas Valanciunas. If you’re a fan of the Davis/Amir Johnson combo, don’t worry. Casey said the two will be on the floor together against the Mavericks.
“You’ll see a lot of Amir and Eddie in the lineup just because of the combination they have and we’re probably going to have to use Mickael Pietrus again at 4 and Linas Kleiza at the 4 some just to give Eddie a blow,” Casey said. “But Amir’s very valuable, he’s a great defensive rotator for us, a rim-runner, a screen and roll guy he’s one of the best we have, and also he and Jose have a connection. And again, just like DeMar, JV is going to grow and believe me, he’s going to grow, he’s growing every day as being a big-time NBA player. But again, you can’t rush time and that’s what he’s going through right now. We’re experiencing it with him.”
This Raptors team can’t rush their injured players back to health either, but are feeling the pressure to stop the slide and get a victory.