Nick Nurse and the Toronto Raptors went into their first 2021-22 meeting against Dwane Casey and the Detroit Pistons as overwhelming favorites due to their defensive skills, but that swarming defense never seemed to make the necessary plays in this game. Detroit pulled off a shocking 127-121 road upset to push Toronto to 2-6 at home.
This victory might mean a bit more to Casey than your average Saturday night victory. Casey may have won 59 games and been named Coach of the Year in 2017-18, but that wasn’t enough to prevent him from getting axed by the Raptors in favor of Nurse, who won a title the season immediately after.
While he landed on his feet in Detroit and has been tasked with jump-starting the Cade Cunningham era, it’s hard to argue that becoming the Pistons coach was more desirable than winning a title with the Raptors. Casey continues to rub it in Toronto’s face whenever they meet up.
Despite the fact Toronto has finished above Detroit in the standings in every year of Nurse’s tenure, Casey is now 7-3 in head-to-head matchups against the Raptors. A postgame quote from center Isaiah Stewart makes it sound like Casey is still holding a grudge and getting his team even more amped to take on Toronto.
Dwane Casey keeps beating Nick Nurse and the Toronto Raptors.
Casey, the franchise’s all-time winningest coach, made the playoffs in five consecutive seasons, but that wasn’t enough to stop him from getting handed an emphatic pink slip after failing to make it past LeBron James. His Pistons might not win a ton this year, but they sure played their best against Toronto.
The Pistons came into this game as the worst offense in the league in terms of points per game, yet they managed to put up 127 points against what was a very good Raptors defense on the road. The Raptors need to patch up their wounds and regroup before a long road trip.
Casey is an instrumental figure in Raptors history, as he oversaw the first sustained streak of regular-season excellence in franchise history and played a part in the development of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. However, ever since he’s moved to his new job in Michigan, he loves twisting the knife and getting back at his old organization.
Even if Casey ends up competing for the No. 1 pick again this year, there’s a small part of him that will look back on this night and laugh. That has to sting the Raptors and their fans to an almost incomparable fury.