Atlanta Hawks have appointed Lloyd Pierce as Head Coach
Dwane Casey’s dismissal from his role as Toronto Raptors won’t stop the wheels of the NBA from turning.

Business continues to be conducted in just about the same manner before rumors surrounding his future with the franchise were confirmed with the sack on Friday.

For the four remaining teams in the playoffs, their focus is firmly on having a good start in the respective Conference Finals on Sunday. For the worst teams in the past regular season, attention is firmly fixed on coming out successful in next month’s draft.

Mid-tier teams like Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons are still in the market for Head Coaches after doing away with the ones they had last season.

Life simply goes on well in the NBA despite the recent dismissal of a man who was voted as the best in the business by his peers. The man who guided Raptors to a franchise best season of 59 wins and first seed in the Eastern Conference is without a job.

The tepid reaction around the league could be down to persistent rumors of Casey’s sack in the immediate aftermath of Raptors sweep at the hands of LeBron James and Cleveland Cavaliers.

Perhaps it could be down to Casey’s sack not being the first time a head trainer with an outstanding winning record has been let go after what could be deemed as underwhelming results.

George Karl got the boot after clinching 60 wins with Seattle Supersonics in 1998 and got kicked out again this time by Denver Nuggets after being voted Coach of the Year in 2013. Under performing in the postseason got Karl sacked and same has been meted out to Casey at the peak of Raptors best run ever in its history.

Karl during his time with Sacramento Kings.

Falling consistently at the hands of LeBron consistently over the years has been fingered as the main reason behind the sack. But is Casey the sole person to bear the brunt for losing to arguably the greatest player to ever the play the game? Losing to the Cavs was closer than most see it bar Raptors woeful performance in Game 4.

Cleveland needed overtime to beat Toronto 114-113 in overtime in Game One. Jonas Valanciunas late misses proved to be crucial in deciding the game’s winning side. Game Two had James playing at his God gifted best that had even the most diehard anti LeBron fan speechless seeing him score impossible fade away jump shots. Game 3 needed another miracle shot from LeBron to get the win; thoughts of double teaming James would have left productive pair Kyle Korver and Kevin Love open on the other side of the floor anyway.

Raptor Serge Ibaka reacts while LeBron James celebrates following his game-ending buzzer beater off the glass to win Game 3 for the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Saturday night.

Casey did what he needed to do to make things work and beat Cleveland; he played his hottest hand while rotating his team including benching starters Valanciunas, Serge Ibaka and All Star DeMar DeRozan at different points in games in the series. Raptors made major improvements in three point shooting, player development and over dependence on the DeRozan-Kyle Lowry tandem by adopting more ball movement to move from 29th in team assists in 2016-2017 to sixth in the past regular season but still felt short.

If there is something wrong with Casey and Raptors inability to beat LeBron, it has to be timing. The Raptors faced LeBron at Cleveland first in the 2016 playoffs in the second year James, Love and Kyrie Irving played together en route to toppling Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals after Warriors took a 3-1 series lead and won a record 73 games. Last season, Raptors had prime defender PJ Tucker to handle LeBron but run everything through DeRozan and Lowry making them quite easy to snuff out. This season, the team lacked a top defender for James after tweaking its offense since OG Anunoby nor Pascal Siakam is up to the task yet.

A lot of factors must come together to win an NBA title and Raptors have not been fortunate with that. Casey is jobless but is likely to get hired as head coach of another team as quickly as possible following his remarkable success in Canada unless he opts for a break from the league. For teams who did away with their Coaches despite successful runs, the returns have not been good; Detroit Pistons fired Flip Saunders in 2008 and have won just one playoff series since.

If the rumors are true, Raptors planned pursuit of Mike Budenholzer is flawed considering Budenholzer was with Atlanta Hawks when the team got swept in the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals by LeBron and the Cavs despite Atlanta fielding four All Stars in that series and ending the regular season as the first seed.

By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter


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