When Raptors president Masai Ujiri LeBron James and the Cavaliers for the third straight year in a row. And yes, the last two seasons ended in sweeps. But the Raptors were still coming off a franchise-best 59-win season that might very well earn Casey Coach of The Year.on Friday, it came as a bit of a surprise to say the least. Yes, Casey had failed to beat
It seemed unfair that Casey was being fired for not doing something nobody in the East has been able to do for seven seasons and counting: beat LeBron. However, this is reportedly something that has been building for awhile. According to Sportsnet's Michael Grange, Ujiri had grown frustrated with Casey's inability to transfer over his regular-season success into the playoffs. There were also internal frustrations about holding DeMar DeRozan accountable on defense.
What apparently bothered Ujiri the most, though, was Game 3 of the playoffs when LeBron Jamesin Toronto with a game-winning floater off glass. The Raptors didn't double-team James and force the ball out of his hands. This reportedly made Ujiri so mad that he scolded Casey for it mere moments after the game.
According to multiple sources the confusion and subsequent lack of execution on the final play was another log on the fire. After the game, Ujiri stormed into the Raptors dressing room at Quicken Loans — just out of sight of most of the players but not out of earshot — and rebuked Casey in the coach's office for failing to double-team James. Ujiri didn't reserve his frustration for just Casey – he also tore into the officials in the hallway as well. But observers noted that the intensity was more than typical for Ujiri, who can run hot at the best of times.
This kind of intensity is well known from Ujiri. He walked on the court at halftime of the same game to verbally confront the refs for some of their calls, which led to him being fined. However, that intensity is related to his frustrations with Casey reaching a boiling point. He he ever had to do. Makes plenty of sense because Casey is the best coach in Raptors history.
However, there comes a point where someone's mistakes outweigh their gains. It sounds like the frustrations that Ujiri was having with Casey eventually outgrew his gains. Despite a 59-win season, there were playoff failures. For every DeRozan highlight, there was a bad defensive possession. For every clutch victory, there was failing to double-team LeBron James at the end of Game 3. Eventually this all built up into why Ujiri decided to move on from him.