The Washington Wizards’ game plan coming into Game 2 against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night was to correct mistakes that were made in the series opener. The main objectives included better perimeter and transition. That is what they prepared for over two practices in a shootaround over the last two days. Then, after tip-off, the Wizards did away with their plan and decided not to play defense at all. The result was Washington going down 0-2 in this first round after a 130-119 blasting from Toronto.
The best way to ensure a loss is to allow the opponent to outscore you 44-27 in the opening quarter. Washington had no answers to slow down Toronto as the Raptors shot 51.7 percent from the field and knocked down 13 of their 35 three-point attempts over the course of the game. DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 37 points, which tied his career playoff high, on an efficient 14-for-23 shooting from the field including 3-for-6 from deep.
Toronto had five players in double-figures, including CJ Miles off the bench. He continued to torch the Wizards from behind the arc in Game Two with 4-for-6 shooting from downtown towards his overall 18 points.
When you combine poor defense with inefficient offense from the first unit, you get what happened to the Wizards tonight. Bradley Beal was a non-factor as he got into foul trouble that may have partially resulted in his mere nine points on 3-for-11 shooting. His -34-point differential is the worst by any player in franchise history in the last 20 playoffs. Beal had company though as Markieff Morris only contributed six points in his 28 minutes of play. Marcin Gortat’s role was reduced to the tune of 12 minutes because of the effectiveness of small ball and his lack of production recently.
It was pretty much all John Wall in terms of production from the starters with some help from Otto Porter Jr and his 12 points. Wall had 29 points, including 22 in the second half, and knocked down all of his 11 free throw attempts. Wall was more efficient in Game 2 with 9-for-17 shooting compared to his Game 1 line of 6-for-20.
Mike Scott Does It All
Even amid a storm, the sun comes out at some point. For this dreary Wizards team, the ray of hope has been the guy playing on a veteran’s minimum contract. Scott has been everything a team wants from a player coming off the bench and more. He brings energy and offense on a consistent level, especially this series. On Tuesday night, he contributed 20 points and was the team’s second-leading scorer. Scott was an efficient 7-for-10 shooting from the field and was able to knock down four of his five three-point attempts.
The small ball lineup was clearly beneficial for the Wizards. After criticism for being a large contributor to the Game 1 loss, the bench did their part in Game 2 as almost every player from the second unit was in double-figures. Kelly Oubre Jr. (14), Ty Lawson (14), Ian Mahinmi (12), and Mike Scott (20) combined for 60 of the Wizards’ 119 points. Lawson brought a spark off the bench with 14 points including four three-pointers and eight assists.
In Losing, Dysfunction Ensures
Beal sat on the bench with his head smothered in a towel. At the same time, Gortat and Wall were having a passionate conversation. The Wizards as a team looked unhinged. During the post-game interviews, no one had an answer as to why things are going haywire. The cliché saying is “the playoffs are different than the regular season” and that is a valid point; however, bad habits, poor defense, and playing selfishly will not end just because the post-season is here. This team is in shambles, and there may not be any solutions.
The better question may be where do the Wizards go from here? This was one of the worst defensive showings by Washington this season and there is a long list of poor efforts. No one seems to be buying into the game plan, which is leading to miserable showings. The Wizards have two days to get things back on track if they want to get back into this series.
The concerning part is that they had 82-games in the regular season to do the same thing and failed to do so. Washington needs to take what they did in the third quarter of Game 2 and apply that in Games 3 and 4 to win at home. If not, then the Toronto Raptors will be purchasing brooms to sweep the Wizards out of their own misery by Sunday.