The Raptors have the best record in the East and Toronto is well on its way toward the best record that it has ever had in the NBA, with metrics telling us Dwane Casey’s club should expect more. Casey’s doing such a great job that the numbers have turned against him, the seven-year Raptor coach would probably call this itch “typical.”
His leadership helped to unleash Toronto’s inexhaustible supply of punchy contributors. Thick with promise and energy, the cheery but pitch-potent Raptors are bursting with a scoring differential so great (just a tick of a tick behind Houston) that the percentages suggest the club should have more wins than the 50 it has as of Wednesday afternoon.
There’s a larger difference between those expected wins and actual wins with the Raptors than with any of the teams led by any of Casey’s Coach of the Year rivals, should he even have one. Nothing here is Dwane or Toronto’s fault, outside of their hand in overloading the system.
Casey won’t receive that honor in spring. The NBA has an awards show now that broadcasts in late June, and this means Casey’s grand experiment will have closed with enough time for us to have made our minds up about his team’s finest season before his speech hits, well before the votes reveal what he’s earned.
The Raptors run a 10-man rotation, one of the best this league has seen in ages. It’s the reason Toronto wins so much and the cruelest way yet to judge Casey’s work. In the postseason his innovation will square up against playoff orthodoxy, Riley to D’Antoni, and the idea that you perform your Five-Best Players Plus Channing Frye for as many minutes as possible during the games that count the most.
LeBron and the Warriors will do that to a regular season, turning it into a small block of wood. A golf-peg distraction at a dirty four-top to poke at during breakfast. The postseason — hallowed halls that make heroes out of ankle sprains, bad officiating and DeShawn Stevenson — plays as some sort of mumblety-peg plucked straight out of Amen Corner.
Whatever. The same amps that work in the studio can roll at a show if the mix is right, the point is still to outscore the other team and Norman Powell isn’t suddenly going to lose his legs at the end of the third quarter in May just because he sprints more than the typical 10th-man in March.
Powell might be Raptor No. 11, come to think of it, and he starts sometimes. We probably shortchanged Casey again.