TORONTO: Raptors coach Dwane Casey loves to clap – particularly in the face of opponents.
Casey has made a habit of shouting and clapping in Cavaliers’ players faces when they’re taking 3-point shots near the Raptors’ bench.
Casey has done it to at least Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith and Kevin Love in the Eastern Conference finals. It’s a tactic he learned from hall of fame coach Jerry Sloan.
“As long as I stay on the sideline, it’s legal,” Casey said. “I’ve done that my entire career and I’ve seen a lot of coaches do that. It’s a natural reaction, being passionate and enthusiastic on the sideline. I don’t think it bothered [them]. The way Kevin Love played [in Game 5], did it bother him very much?”
Whether it’s Casey or the Raptors’ defense, the Cavs’ 3-point shooting hasn’t been nearly as good in the conference finals as it was against the Atlanta Hawks in the conference semifinals. The Cavs averaged 19 3-pointers against the Hawks and shot better than 50 percent from the 3-point line, but they’re averaging 10 per game and shooting 35 percent from deep through five games against the Raptors.
“They’re defending us more like the Pistons did [in the first round],” J.R. Smith said. “They’re running us off the line and trying to keep us from getting good looks.”
Keeping his distance
Cavs forward Tristan Thompson grew up in Brampton, just down the road from the Air Canada Centre, but he warned friends and family to leave him alone on this quick trip.
“I haven’t seen nobody. I told everyone, ‘Stay away, stay away,’?” Thompson said. “It’s time for me to lock in … I will just see them after the game.”
Casey had hoped LeBron James would wear down at some point in this series, between guarding multiple opponents to logging heavy minutes at times. James played 46 minutes in Game 4, but Casey doesn’t typically see a reduction in his play regardless of his minutes.
“You hope he would wear down from running all over the place,” Casey said. “You look up, one time he’s guarding Kyle [Lowry], next time he’s guarding DeMar [DeRozan], next time he’s guarding T-Ross [Terrence Ross], next time he’s guarding DC [DeMarre Carroll], next time he’s flying from this corner to run through the pick-and-roll over there.
“You would hope at some point he’d become human and get tired. We’re trying everything in the world to involve him defensively to make sure he does that. I don’t know if the guy’s human or not to get fatigued. That’s why he’s the player he is. Our job is to make sure we recognize as quickly as possible where he is, what he’s trying to do, which has been our challenge.”
Loudest of career
Irving acknowledged the other day he was caught off guard by Toronto’s home crowd and considered it the loudest arena he’s ever played in. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue concurred.
“It is one of the loudest arenas I have been in throughout the course of my 18-year career in the NBA,” Lue said. “We have to play through that, weather the storm early and try to take the crowd out as well as we can.”
The Raptors have been playing games every other day for the entire month of May and essentially for the last six weeks. DeRozan said that has taken more of a mental drain on him than a physical drain.
“You’re locked in heavily. Everything you do,,” he said. “I wake up in the night in a panic thinking I missed something and a lot of times it’s 6 o’clock in the morning.”
LeBron James passed Paul Pierce (272) for sixth place in career postseason 3-pointers during the first quarter on Friday. He began the night one behind Pierce. … The Cavs’ fourth-quarter defense has been on point, holding opponents to 21.1 points this postseason. It’s the best mark for any playoff team. The Raptors scored fewer than 20 fourth-quarter points in four of the first five games in this series. … Irving has scored at least 20 points in 11 of the Cavs’ first 13 playoff games.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com.