It feels quaint to acknowledge this now but let’s get to it right off the top: Dwane Casey is in Toronto tonight! There was a time not so long ago (two years), when he was the Raptors’ guiding light, the man most often in front of the cameras addressing the team’s strengths and weaknesses, and left to dig for what they needed to do next on the court. For seven years, true to his mantra in Toronto, Casey pounded the rock.
But then there was a time also not so long ago (one year), when it all went to hell for Casey and the Raptors. They got blasted out of the playoffs again, he won Coach of the Year regardless, and then he was fired from the team. Into that void stepped Casey’s former assistant Nick Nurse, who happened to luck into one of the best basketball players on the planet, and used his good chance to march the Raptors to the 2019 NBA championship. Quite the turn of events.
Which is why it feels quaint to care about Nurse’s 0-3 record against his former boss. Before the game, every the pair of diplomats, both Casey and Nurse were quick to laud the other — they were happy, there was much mutual respect, there was, in Casey’s words, “no saltiness, no pepper, not hot sauce, anything whatsoever.” Well then, case closed.
And yet... and yet it is funny that in all the success Nurse had last year — 58 wins, an NBA title — he never beat his Casey. Nurse of course says it never gets personal in the NBA, at least not usually. The games come to fast, there’s too much happening to get hung up on old grudges. I want to be clear here: I believe Nurse when he says this. But I also definitely think he would like to notch one here against his former boss. Who wouldn’t?
An aside: This is the narrative to write about when considering yet another Pistons roster “led” by Andre Drummond, with yet another series of goofy bench players — including Derrick Rose this time — and too many injuries. Detroit is already down Reggie Jackson and Blake Griffin, only their two other most talented players. Yes, Nurse said they’d be “knocking on the door,” but in truth: not yet.
In any case, we’ve got your full Raps-Pistons preview from this morning. And below are the up-to-date details.
Now, let’s watch.
Where to Watch:
TSN, 7:30pm EST
Toronto - Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol
Detroit - Tim Frazier, Luke Kennard, Tony Snell, Markieff Morris, Andre Drummond
Toronto - None!
Orlando - Reggie Jackson (back - out), Blake Griffin (hamstring - out)