Dallas Mavericks lead assistant coach Dwane Casey was named today as the head coach of the Toronto Raptors.
And Casey is already making plans for the Raptors to be much improved on the defensive end of the court.
"Defensively, I'm going to be a hands-on control freak, so to speak,'' Casey said today at a press conference in Toronto. "I want the defense to be fun.
"When you light people up and you put your stamp on the game defensively, that's fun.''
Casey, 54, was the Mavs' defensive coordinator for the past three years. That defense was put to the ultimate test when the Mavs had a brutal playoff stretch that included series against Portland, the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City and Miami.
Casey and the Mavs were particularly severely tested in the NBA Finals against Miami when they dropped the first game of the best-of-seven series against the Heat, and trailed Game 2 by 15 points with 7:14 left. But Casey said some creativity helped the Mavs survive the series against the Heat in six games.
"In the playoffs we spliced in some hockey videos with our game because we felt like we were playing too soft against Miami to start the series,'' Casey said. "It got us checking players up into the windows and into the board.''
Casey spent the past three seasons with Dallas and is the main reason the Mavs' defense improved by leaps and bounds during this championship season. During the regular season the Mavs were seventh in the NBA in three-point field goal percentage allowed (34.3 percent), eighth in overall field goal percentage allowed (45 percent) and 10th in points allowed (96.0 per game).
By contrast, the Raptors were 26th in points allowed (105.4 per game), 28th in three-point shooting defense (37.6 percent), and 29th in overall field goal percentage allowed (48.2 percent).
Under that backdrop, selecting Casey over Boston assistant Lawrence Frank was an easy choice for the Raptors' management.
“After a lengthy and detailed search for our new head coach, it became very clear that Dwane Casey embodies every aspect of what we defined as an ideal candidate,” said Bryan Colangelo, the Raptors' president and general manager. “Dwane’s 16-plus years in NBA coaching circles working with some tremendous basketball mentors coupled with his proven ability as a defensive architect will serve as a great backdrop for the future approach of this team.”
This will be Casey's second stint as a head coach. He also coached the Minnesota Timbervolves to a 53-69 record from the fall of 2006 until they fired him on Jan. 23, 2007.
Before that, Casey spent 11 seasons as an assistant coach with the Seattle Supersonics.
With Casey gone, the Mavs will begin a search for his replacement.
-- Dwain Price
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