“Keeping the same situations over and over, and not being successful, something’s gotta give, something’s gotta change,” said Kyle Lowry after the Raptors pissed away a 16-point lead over the Pistons to lose their 10th game in 14 outings. Some of those were particularly ugly for a team that fancies itself a contender in the weak East: Sixers, Suns, Wolves, Magic twice. Asked what had to change, a demoralized Lowry had ominous words: “I have an idea, but I’m going to keep my mouth shut, keep it very professional.”
That tight-lipped appeal to “professionalism” feels like a giveaway that Lowry’s craving not just some tactical adjustment but a personnel shift. And maybe that’s just a weird, veiled reference to his trade deadline wish list; it’s at least as likely that it’s a reference to head coach Dwane Casey, who’s taken some heat for his late-game play calling in recent weeks. Casey’s never been anyone’s idea of a tactical genius, and last night the Raps managed just four points in the final four minutes of the fourth quarter. While it feels odd to suggest that a coach presiding over a 32-23 team needs to be axed, the simple fact is that if the Raptors ever want to be more than a strong regular-season team that flames out in the playoffs, they’ll need a coach who can get his team good shots at the end of games.
During the Raptors’ slump, they sunk from second to fourth in the East, ceding ground to the Celtics and newly functional Wizards, with the Hawks sitting only half a game back in fifth. Whatever shakeup Lowry had in mind, it needs to arrive soon if they hope to salvage their season.