Raptors get set for Celtics
By RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency
Dwane Casey will get one more look at his charges on Wednesday night in Boston before the season tips off for real on Boxing Day.
Though it will be only his second opportunity to see them in game action, luckily for the head coach he doesn’t have to make as many tough roster decisions as usual.
Because this NBA season will be such a grind – 66 games with far fewer rest days than the players are used to – Casey intends to stretch out his rotation considerably.
While most teams play seven or eight players a lot and one or two more in spot duty, for 2010-11 it will be all hands on deck for the Raptors.
“We’re going to have a centre by committee (with Amir Johnson, Aaron Gray and Jamaal Magloire seeing time depending on a variety of factors),” Casey said before the team headed to Boston on Tuesday.
“There are going to be different matchups two nights in a row. There are going to be a lot of games in a lot of nights. So maybe we’ll give a guy a (break).”
Though Jose Calderon is expected to be the regular starter, Casey said he could see Jerryd Bayless supplanting him for some games.
Coming off a one-point loss to the Celtics at the ACC, Calderon knows what he wants to see out of himself and his teammates Wednesday: Better execution on offence.
The attack has been very much a secondary concern so far and Calderon thinks improvement could come rapidly if the Raptors take care of the ball better.
“This game is going to be great for us,” Calderon said.
“We lost by one (even though) we turned the ball over 21 times. We need more time to practice with each other. We were trying to do too much.”
Don’t expect Calderon to get into any kind of a verbal encounter with Boston’s Kevin Garnett.
Garnett loudly challenged Andrea Bargnani in the prior matchup, something he has also done against Calderon in the past.
But does the fiery Spaniard have an issue with Garnett?
“Who me? No, he’s a good friend,” said Calderon, clearly taken aback by the query.
Johnson didn’t think much of Garnett’s antics either, though he said he definitely was aware of the barking.
“He does that a lot,” Johnson said with a shrug before adding he wasn’t surprised the future hall of famer had upped the intensity ante just one exhibition game into the season.
While Calderon said four-time defending Atlantic division champion Boston is just another team, Johnson admitted that the Raptors must become more competitive against the veteran group.
“They’re a tough team. We just have to get better playing against them,” he said.
“It’s a tough play for us, but we’re getting better at (challenging) them.”
Sunday’s game was a start. Though the Celtics doled out considerable minutes to reserves, Toronto still managed to hold the club to .394 shooting from the field, the first time that’s happened since 2002.
It had been 39 regular or pre-season games since Boston failed to shoot at least 40% against the Raptors and Boston’s 76 total points were 30 less than the team averaged in four meetings last year.