Toronto Raptors stressing defence heading into opener

Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey talks with starter Kyle Lowry during a preseason game...

Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey talks with starter Kyle Lowry during a preseason game against the Boston Celtics at Air Canada Centre on Oct. 16, 2013. (JOHN E. SOKOLOWSKI/USA TODAY Sports)

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:48 PM ET

There will be no confusion this year.

No mixed messages from a head coach who values defence like few others not named Tom Thibodeau, but agreed (reluctantly?) to emphasize offence a year ago at the peril of some defensive slippage.

The Raptors are a defensive team first, last and always. Dwane Casey knows that with the same certainty he knows the names of his children.

Most importantly, his players know it.

From Rudy Gay to DeMar DeRozan to Kyle Lowry and right on down to Julyan Stone, there's not a player on the Raptors roster that doesn't know the score where defence is concerned.

Even the bench is going to earn its minutes based on stops over scores.

The Raptors were a team lacking in confidence offensively a year ago. That's no longer the case.


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