The Toronto Raptors fired Dwane Casey after they were swept in the second round of the playoffs by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he can take solace in one thing—he is the NBA's Coach of the Year.
Casey beat out finalists Brad Stevens and Quin Snyder for the 2017-18 award on Monday night.
That drew congratulatory tweets from two teams...both former and current, respectively:
When accepting the award, the now-Detroit coach reflected on his wild last two months:
Despite the playoff failure, the Coach of the Year is a regular-season award, and no team in the Eastern Conference was better than Casey's Raptors. Toronto finished with the No. 1 seed and a 59-23 record, the best mark since he took over as head coach prior to the 2011-12 season.
Part of the reason for the success was an offensive overhaul that led to a third-place finish in offensive rating during the regular season, per NBA.com.
Pairing the production with the league's fifth-best defense was a formula for wins, and Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer noted "Casey successfully overhauled Toronto's system to improve ball movement and shot selection. DeMar DeRozan started shooting more threes and playmaking, and as a result, had a career-best season."
Formulas only go so far, though, when matched up against a generational player, and James knocked the Raptors out of the playoffs for the third straight season.
The playoff failure was ultimately impossible for the Raptors front office to ignore, especially in an Eastern Conference that was quite winnable for the top seed. The Cavaliers needed a full seven games just to escape the first round, the Boston Celtics were missing Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward because of injuries, and key pieces of the Philadelphia 76ers were young and playing in their first playoffs.
Playoff loss aside, Casey did an admirable job leading the Eastern Conference's best team in the regular season and was rewarded in kind Monday.