Toronto Raptors Head Coach Dwane Casey has said this season was all about the development of Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas since the beginning and although it should be obvious to all by now, he confirmed the Raptors are still all about player development in the playoffs as well.
After the game three loss in Brooklyn where Ross’ struggles were particularly evident, Casey confirmed this wasn’t anything unexpected.
“(Ross) struggled,” Casey said. “He just struggled. He had three turnovers. He played the way I figured he was going to play. They got into him. He just struggled getting off his mark. Believe me (though), Terrence is going to be okay.”
Ross is only hitting 1 shot per game and shooting 18.8 percent in the playoffs. He is making lots of mistakes on defense and turning the ball over as well. In his 63 minutes of playing time, the Raptors are -24 points with him on the court.
Valanciunas has put up three double-doubles in three games and set a new playoff record for rebounds in a game at 18, but the young center has been making his fair share of mistakes as well. Valanciunas is a -22 points over 100 minutes of playing time, however, Casey has no intentions of cutting back on the precious minutes of playoff experience for either sophomore.
“I think (Ross) is soaking up some minutes,” Casey said. “Both of them are soaking up big minutes. Probably, if they weren’t young guys, they probably wouldn’t be. If it wasn’t our future, our direction, (they) probably wouldn’t be in there with some of the mistakes they are making.
“They are our guys. They got to learn, this is their first playoff. I expect a lot of their mistakes, so we are going to ride with them in those situations.
“It’s tough, but at the same time, they are a big part of the reason why we are here. The way they have played as sophomores and the mistakes they are making are freshmen/sophomore mistakes in the playoffs. I am not blind to the fact that they are our future and the only way they are going to learn is to go through it.”
Expect any calls from the fans or the media to significantly change the playing time of either sophomore to fall on deaf ears. This Raptors season has always been about next year and there is no substitute for playing time in the playoffs. Toronto will win or lose their first round series with Brooklyn playing like they have all season. It’s still player development first for the Raptors.
Raptors Jonas Valanciunas Is The Beast Of The Playoff East
“I am playing for my team,” Valanciunas said. “I am not playing for my stats. I want to give something for the team to win. I don’t look at the stats. I have 14 rebounds, I need one more, I don’t do that. I see that they can’t get a rebound and can I go take that rebound and protect the rim, that’s how I see it.”
Toronto Raptors Terrence Ross Is Blossoming On Defense
“(Ross’) experience has helped him (know) this is about to happen to me – this happened to me in the Clipper game – so they are doing the same (thing),” Casey explained. “Now he has experience to draw from (when) reading situations and that has helped him. Then his athletic instincts, his hands, his speed and quickness kicks in after that. Game experience has helped (Ross) and Jonas (Valanciunas) both in a lot of situations especially Terrence guarding some of the top scorers in the league.”