Casey says Raptors can't bow down to LeBron
Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey has been around the NBA long enough to know when a superstar is toying with his competition. And after LeBron James' 35-point, beer-break performance against his team in Game 1 on Monday, he's preaching defiance.
"When a guy hits you in the mouth a few times, now what are you going to do?" Casey said Tuesday, according to Tom Withers of The Associated Press. "That's the mentality we have to have, they punched us."
Casey was an assistant with the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1990s, and recalls players being in awe of the likes of Michael Jordan and Karl Malone.
"We used to have to tell Gary Payton and those guys, 'Hey, he puts his pants on one leg (at a time),'" he said. "I think that's natural. It's human nature to watch a Michael Jordan or a Karl Malone, spectate until they hit you in the mouth."
While the James freight train is virtually unstoppable, Casey will try to make adjustments to give the Raptors a better chance. The coach went back to the team's traditional lineup to start Game 1, and Toronto was promptly torched.
Norman Powell, whose floor time shifted the balance of power in the Raptors' series victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, saw only 21 minutes Monday, and while he shot poorly, Toronto is plus-58 with him on the floor this postseason - and minus-65 without him
Whether Casey goes small in Game 2 remains to be seen, but he hinted at changes Tuesday.
"I've coached against the Magics, the Jordans, all those guys are freaks of nature," said Casey. "(LeBron) is no different, but it's a team game. There's some other things you can do to help against him, but he does some things extraordinary and that means we have to do our job extraordinary - anticipation, help, double-team, help, whatever it is to minimize or negate a little bit of that."