Head Coach Dwane Casey is going for his 100th win with the Raptors on Wednesday at home against the Houston Rockets in a scenario no one saw coming after Toronto traded Rudy Gay in December.
Unexpectedly, the Raptors are 42-32 with 8 games remaining in the 2013-2014 NBA season and Casey already has his team’s fifth winning season in franchise history secured. The only things left to be determined are if Toronto can finish with a plus .500 record on the road for the first time ever (currently 20-18), a plus .500 season against the Western Conference (currently 15-14), and win the Atlantic Division for just the second time in franchise history.
How Casey has achieved this is beyond remarkable. President and General Manager, Basketball Operations tasked Casey with player development and evaluation first and foremost this season and the Raptors coach has definitely gotten the most possible out of his very young lineup.
The Raptors are the only team currently in a playoff position starting two sophomore players – Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross – and the starting lineup of Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Ross, Amir Johnson and Valanciunas already has the most wins in a season by any starting five in team history (28).
Three of the Raptors starters have never been in the postseason and both Lowry and Johnson only had a taste and that was several years ago. The Raptors reserves don’t have a world of postseason experience either. John Salmons has the most, 4 visits and 618 playoff minutes, followed by Tyler Hansbrough and Chuck Hayes who have seen postseason action in 3 years. Steve Novak has been to the postseason 4 times, but has only played very limited minutes.
The Raptors are winning with chemistry and effort as they gain the experience to be a better team down the road. Getting his 100th win as the Raptors Head Coach this quickly – which will happen before the season ends – is something special.
Casey trails Lenny Wilkens (2000-2003, 113 wins) and Sam Mitchell (2004-2009, 156 wins) for the most wins by a Raptors head coach. Casey, Wilkens and Mitchell are the only Raptors coaches to win the NBA Eastern Conference Coach of the Month award.
Raptors Playoffs: Craziness And Responsibility, John Salmons
It’s about to get crazy at the Air Canada Center in Toronto and Raptors veteran John Salmons is ready for some playoff excitement.
“I feel like the fans are going to be crazy,” Salmons said. “Just walking on the street is going to be crazy, it’s going to be a crazy atmosphere and that’s the fun part.”