The Raptors won a franchise-record 59 games last season, securing the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Coach Dwane Casey was named the Coach of the Year as a result. But after LeBron and a dismal Cavs supporting cast swept the top-seeded Raptors in the second round, team president Masai Ujiri made wholesale changes, firing Casey and trading DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl to the Spurs for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.
Casey took the coaching reins from Stan Van Gundy in Detroit, and his Pistons defeated his old team, 106-104, on Wednesday night in an exciting fashion, with Reggie Bullock hitting a game-winning buzzer-beater. After the game, Blake Griffin had a nice zinger at Ujiri's expense because the win never would have happened if Casey hadn't provided his team two out-of-bounds plays just in case the first one didn't work out.
That's exactly what happened. A lob to Glenn Robinson III was blocked out of bounds with 1.2 seconds left, which left Casey's blackup plan. It worked out pretty well:
Per NBA.com's Keith Langlois, when a local reporter asked Griffin after the game if Casey's move gives them confidence on the court, he took a shot at Ujiri without specifically naming him:
"We know [Casey's plays work]. This isn’t like we just discovered this for the first time today," Blake said. "We’ve put in plays like that all the time in practice. He demands execution and we executed. Maybe to Toronto fans—or certainly their GM, maybe —it was a surprise. But not to us."
While it must've been nice for Casey to hear Blake have his back, the Raptors are doing pretty well under new coach and former assistant, Nick Nurse. Even after the loss, they're tied with Golden State for the best record in the Association at 12-3, and that's despite Kawhi being inactive on the second night of back to backs as he continues to recover from last season's quadriceps injury.