Wizards (0-1) at Raptors (1-0)
April 17, 2018 at 7:00 PM
Air Canada Centre | Toronto, ON
TV: NBATV, NBCSW+
Radio: 1500 AM
Odds: TOR -6.5
What to Watch:
Wizards Closing Out On Shooters
Despite losing against the Toronto Raptors on Saturday, the Washington Wizards got a chance to see what their opponents can bring to the table. Kyle Lowry struggled for most of the game and Toronto was without Fred VanVleet. Nevertheless, Washington played complete basketball until the final seven minutes of regulation.
Washington allowed Toronto to shoot 16-for-30 from behind the arc in Game 1. The game plan moving forward is better defense along the perimeter, forcing the shooters to make the extra pass and possibly commit a turnover. It is nearly impossible to win a game when the opposition is knocking down shots from downtown at that rate and there is no offense to counter that on the other end of the court.
Every successful team has a second unit that can produce when called upon. Over the last few seasons, the Wizards’ bench was a liability and part of Saturday’s loss can be blamed for being a detriment to the team’s chances of winning. Washington’s bench was outscored, 42-21. Toronto was able to do this without their backup point guard VanVleet who averages 8.6 points this season including 41 percent shooting from downtown.
Scott Brooks is limited with his rotation as it is and the guys that are supposed to help maintain and provide energy are not doing it. Kelly Oubre and others must impact this game in some way. They must knock down shots and provide defense. If the bench continues to be unreliable, then the Wizards do not have a real chance of being competitive in this series. John Wall and Bradley Beal cannot do this alone. Part of the “team basketball” mentality is the second unit contributing.
Every train needs a conductor. The Wizards train could be on the verge of a derailment, but if there is one person who can get things back on track, it is John Wall. To avoid going down, 0-2 to Toronto, the Wizards need Wall playing at his best. On Saturday, Wall finished with a team-high 23 points. However, he struggled from the field; shooting just 6-for-20 on the night. Wall must find the bottom of the net when attacking the rim. When Wall is seen as a threat by his shooting and his ability to drive that can break down any defense and lead to more 15 assist performances.
Once that happens, and defenders start to close in on him, Wall must carefully dish the rock to one of his teammates and they must be confident in knocking down the shot. Too often, Wall kicks the ball out to the open man and ends up turning the ball over. Or, the shooter cannot complete the shot and no one can grab the offensive rebounds. It is those things that add up and changes the momentum of the game and gives the opponent everything they need to run away with the game.
Drake Wants All The Smoke
When a person thinks of the city of Toronto, they do not think of a world-class city that lies on the shores of Lake Ontario. Only one thing, well person, comes to mind and that is Drake. Drizzy notoriously stands along the sidelines chirping in players’ ears trying to distract them. This makes this matchup beyond fun because of the friendly Instagram beef between Wall and Drake. It will be interesting to see what stunts the Grammy Award-winning artist will pull for Game 2 on Tuesday night.
Toronto is going to win this game. How can they lose? As optimistic as many would like to be regarding this team, the Wizards have yet to prove they can turn things around. After a good game, many applaud the Wizards for playing team basketball. Which in all honesty, that is something they should be doing every night and not applauded to when they do once every blue moon. It is something that is not right with this team and until Washington decides to collectively turn things around, they will continue to underachieve. They have been doing so all season long so why would things change for Game 2?