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Atlantic Notes: Casey, Celtics, Stevens

As the Raptors evaluate coach Dwane Casey‘s job performance, one negative that stands out is the team’s poor defense, Scott Stinson of The National Post writes. Casey, who came to Toronto with the reputation as a defense specialist, places the blame on the team’s offensive woes after DeMar DeRozan injured his groin, Stinson notes. “Where I thought we got discombobulated was, after DeMar went down, our defense took a huge hit, and I take accountability for it,” Casey said. “We kind of got away from some of our defensive principles to hide some weaknesses that we had. Trying to make up for the lack of DeRozan, in other words, despite the team still winning, was creating other problems. That way lies chaos. You kind of get disheveled on the defensive end and you never recover from that.” GM Masai Ujiri hasn’t confirmed that Casey would be retained, though he did indicate that if he had decided against keeping the coach, he would have said so.

Here’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  •  Despite being swept out of the playoffs by Cleveland in the first round, the Celtics laid the groundwork this season for future success, Jessica Camerato of Basketball Insiders writes. “We know we can compete with anybody in the NBA,” said mid-season pickup Isaiah Thomas. “People counted us out and we just kept fighting. We kept believing in ourselves, we kept coming to work every day with our hard hat on and working hard and doing the things that we can control. If we can do that in the summer, next training camp, next season, then we’ve got a bright future with this group of guys.
  • Guiding Boston to the playoffs this season has proven that Celtics coach Brad Stevens belongs in the league, Ian Thomsen of writes. “Where I feel much more comfortable is the understanding of 29 opponents, understanding the schedule, understanding the NBA and the game management,” Stevens said. “Those were all like knock-you-over experiences. Now I feel like I’ve got a handle on all that. Now it’s just about coaching this team as well as we can.
  • The Celtics‘ abbreviated playoff run has shown that the team badly needs to add a star player, but also demonstrated that rookie Marcus Smart is a cornerstone who the franchise can build around, Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald writes.

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