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Monday, April 21, 2014
Kidd-Casey chess match will decide Game 2

By Ohm Youngmisuk

TORONTO -- For the past two days, Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey has spoken about the adjustments his team has to make.

He wants to see the Raptors clean up their execution and eliminate the turnovers. But Toronto also plans on making an attitude adjustment as well.

The Brooklyn Nets, up 1-0 in this best-of-seven first-round series, should expect a much more physical Raptors team in Game 2.

“It’s going to be a physical game, definitely,” point guard Greivis Vasquez said. “It’s going to be extremely physical.”

Let the chess match begin between head coaches Jason Kidd and Casey. Over the past 48 hours, both teams have spent time going over adjustments and tweaks while reinforcing themes they both feel will be key to winning this first-round series.

Paul Pierce, Jonas Valanciunas
The Nets can expect a more physical Raptors team in Game 2.
“The playoffs is sort of like a boxing match, man,” said Paul Pierce, the star of Game 1. “You come out and you swing a punch, get some punches through, and then the next round it changes. You gotta expect them to make adjustments, but you also gotta expect us to make adjustments.”

“We didn’t feel like we played our best basketball,” he added.

Considering this is Kidd’s first playoff series as a head coach, it will be interesting to see how he handles any counters made by Casey. Kidd said he didn’t really think there was much of a difference between coaching in a playoff game versus a regular-season game.

“He was as I expected,” Pierce said of how Kidd handled his first taste of playoff coaching. “He’s been in pressure situations. I think it’s just carried over from being a player to a coach. Very calm in timeouts, very understanding of what he wants to do out there. Very confident. That’s what you saw him do as a player. That’s what you see him do as a coach.”

Coaching in the playoffs can make a difference between the games when potentially series-turning adjustments are made.

Will the Raptors be able to reduce the 17 turnovers they committed in Game 1? Can the Nets slow down Jonas Valanciunas or will they be content to let him dominate the middle while they slow down other key Raptors? Will Toronto be able to keep Pierce from making clutch shots in the fourth quarter again?

Casey wants his team to execute better. He would like to make Pierce catch the ball farther away from the basket and make things tougher on the vet. And, he wants to see the Raptors bring the muscle.

“The screens have to be more physical, more meaningful than just going over hoping that he hits me,” Casey said. “We got to be as physical as they were with us on their screens. They got pieces of us in their screens and we didn’t do that. Our big guys have to set man-sized screens for [DeMar DeRozan] to get open.”

Will the Nets get more physical with the rising 21-year-old Valanciunas? Valanciunas had 17 points, 18 rebounds and two blocks in his playoff debut. The Nets were able to hold DeRozan to 3-of-13 shooting and 14 points in Game 1 while Kyle Lowry managed just 4-of-his-22 points in the fourth quarter.

For the Nets, coming with even more intensity than Game 1 could make a big difference for a team loaded with veterans who already know how to adjust to almost anything that comes their way on the floor.

“It’s a mindset,” Shaun Livingston said of the Nets’ attitude needed to steal Game 2. “It’s a mentality. We have to train ourselves mentally to be hungry, to be greedy. I think that’s what all the great teams strive for.”

While the Nets may want to be greedy, the young and inexperienced Raptors expect to be settled down after getting caught up in the hype of being in the postseason with a frenzied home crowd behind them.

“That is as much about it as anything with our guys,” Casey said. “Our guys were focused, I thought they came in playing hard. [But] I thought there was so much hype with the playoffs, so much in the first playoff series, we were a little wild-eyed, bushy-tailed.”

“In Game 2,” Casey added, “I know it will be different."