LeBron James credits Dwane Casey for making him player he is today

Getty Images

Back during the 2010-11 season, Dwane Casey was an assistant coach in Dallas, the guy Rick Carlisle entrusted to oversee his defense. That was not exactly a lock-down defensive team but they were good (seventh in the NBA for the season) and when it got to the postseason, Casey drew up smart game plans.

Those plans helped get the Mavericks past the Heat in the Finals to win Dallas’ first (and so far, only) NBA title. After winning the ring, Casey was hired by the Toronto Raptors as their new head coach.

After LeBron James torched Casey’s Raptors in Game 2 with 43 points and 14 assists, he credited Casey and that Mavs team for forcing his game to another level. From Josh Lewenberg of TSN.

High praise. That probably doesn’t make Casey feel any better right now, however.

For the record, LeBron averaged 17.8 points per game with an above average 54.1 true shooting percentage in the 2011 NBA Finals — good numbers, but nine points per game fewer than he averaged during the regular season, and he was not as efficient in those Finals. Give Shawn Marion some credit for his defense in that series, he was often matched up on LeBron, but the plan was to double LeBron quickly, pack the paint on his drives with Tyson Chandler protecting the rim, and single-cover Dwyane Wade and dare Miami to make him the primary scorer (plus Dallas played more zone in that series than the Heat had seen previously).

LeBron and the Cavaliers are now up 2-0 on Casey’s Raptors after LeBron led third-quarter charge Thursday with 15 points and six assists in the frame. He shot 9-of-12 at the rim for the game and 9-of-13 from the midrange. He was indefensible, and part of the reason for that apparently falls to the Raptors’ coach.