Raptors head coach Dwane Casey planted All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan on the bench with his team down 16 points in Game 3, and Toronto staged a comeback before ultimately falling victim to LeBron James’ heroics at the buzzer.
DeRozan told reporters how difficult it was for him to watch his team go down 0-3 to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Casey said DeRozan—who is averaging a team-high 23.8 points in the playoffs—“wasn’t the reason we lost.”
“It’s extremely hard, extremely hard,” DeRozan said. “I just want to be out there helping my team, way more than anything. It definitely sucks to be watching … we’ve got to give credit to those guys. We fought hard and gave ourselves a chance to win.”
Casey did not discuss his decision to bench DeRozan after the game. The coach did hint that the decision wasn’t just about DeRozan’s poor shooting. He was a team-worst minus-23 on the night.
“Even when you are not shooting well you can defend and do things to help us win, but those nights are going to happen,” Casey said. “He had a tough night. He wasn’t the reason we lost. We are professionals, he’s a pro. He has had tough games before, he’ll bounce back. But we have one more game, our pride is on the line, basically our season is on the line, but I think he’ll bounce back.”