The Toronto Raptors young sophomore Terrence Ross has been struggling through his first playoff series. His scoring is way down from the regular season and his shooting percentages are in the tank. He has been making mistakes on defense and uncharacteristically throwing the ball away as well. It’s all new to him and it is obvious the pressure was more than he expected off the start. There are signs, however, that he is starting to adjust and find his playoff legs.
“It’s a grind and every possession counts,” Ross said. “It’s like repetition almost where every possession counts.”
Struggles and mistakes are not something that surprises Head Coach Dwane Casey. This is a learning experience for the Raptors young players and he is going to keep throwing them out there.
“I think (Ross) is soaking up some minutes,” Casey said. “Both of (Ross and Valanciunas) 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.”
The playoffs have been an eye opening experience for Ross. The things he got away with in the regular season become costly errors and defenders know what he likes to do and often take that away.
“For sure because in the playoffs you are playing the same team so many times it’s like they know what you are going to do so you have to counter and (another) move to go to and make sure you have a counter to the counter,” Ross said.
Playing against the veteran laden Brooklyn Nets has given Ross a new appreciation for what experience and playoff experience really means.
“It’s hard because this is what they do,” Ross said. “They have been doing this for a long time. It is their experience that helps them out. It’s tough.
“You can’t really explain it until you have been in it.”
This is DeMar DeRozan’s first time in the postseason as well, but DeRozan is a young veteran that has a significantly more developed skill set than Ross, so the Raptors All-Star is a lot harder to stop. However, the difference between playing the veteran Nets in the postseason compared to the regular season has been an eye opener for DeRozan as well.
“It’s a lot tougher because in the regular season you can get away with a lot of the moves you would normally do, go to plays that you would normally run and score easier, especially for myself,” DeRozan confirmed. “Now they take away all your strengths. They know what you like to go to, for me personally (its) pump fakes, so you try to get away from the pump fakes, little things like that that, they all know that, so you got to go out there and do other things on both ends.”
Ross is learning, his teammates are supporting him and he is showing signs of figuring out how he has to play in the postseason to be successful. Ross and the rest of the Raptors couldn’t have asked for a better first round opponent to teach them some hard playoff lessons.
Coach Casey Brings Playoff Experience To The Raptors
“It’s not my first rodeo in a playoffs situation,” Casey said. “You are not as comfortable after a win as you are down after a loss. You have to treat each game separately. We have to go into the next game as if we lost the last game. That’s the mentality you have to go in (with). You can’t go in too high and if we lost, we couldn’t go in too low.”
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“The whole series for us is a growing experience because we are such a young team,” said Head Coach Dwane Casey before the game. “First time in the playoffs for a lot of our key guys, so I am learning that they are growing from it, they are getting better in certain situations – still making mistakes in certain situations, but the adjustments part is something that is big for us – to change things on a day’s notice or even in games, that’s good to see.”
Terrence Ross Photo credit: Paul Saini