April 25, 2018 | Air Canada Center | Toronto, ON
The Washington Wizards went into Game 5 knowing they had to win at least one game on the road in the now best-of-3 series. They came out with a better first quarter start with better defense, but they could not build a lead. Poor play and execution late spelled doom for the road team in their hopes of ending the home dominance that this series has seen. Based on NBA history, the Toronto Raptors now have an 83 percent chance to win the series after their Game 5 victory to take a 3-2 series lead. The Wizards have now lost 9 of their last 10 road playoffs games as well as their last nine road games dating back to the regular season.
“We made a lot of mistakes on certain things that we’ve seen the team enough,” head coach Scott Brooks explained. “Some things you got to live with, but some things are non-negotiable. We gave up too many of our non-negotiables and we got to do a better job, we got to do a better job.”
Rarely will the Wizards lose a game solely because of poor offense and although that end of the court was not the only reason for their demise, it was a large part of their Game 5 loss. Washington only shot 41.1 percent (37-for-90) from the field and just 36.1 percent in quarters other than the third when they shot 11-for-18 (61.1 percent). To make matters worse, they were a miserable 5-for-26 (19.2 percent), third worst this season, from beyond the arc. John Wall was 0-for-4, Otto Porter was 0-for-3, Markieff Morris was 0-for-2, and Kelly Oubre as 1-for-7 from deep. The Wizards dominated the glass by outrebounding the Raptors 50-35 and 14-6 on the offensive boards, but were a miserable 4-for-14 for 10 points on second chances.
“We didn’t make shots,” Wall put simply. “We had some good looks, we didn’t shoot it well from the field and then we only made five threes. I think we had a lot of great looks in transition or in the half court set in the fourth quarter, when we had a five-point lead, that just didn’t fall for us.”
“We just missed some shots,” Bradley Beal put simply after his 20-point performance on 8-for-20 shooting. “We feel like we got a lot of good ones, especially late down the stretch. A lot of them didn’t fall, but for the most part, we feel like we didn’t shoot it well and didn’t play a great game and still had an opportunity to win.”
Turnover Script Flipped
Through the first four games, Washington was averaging 12.25 turnovers per game, while Toronto averaged 17 miscues per game. Raptors head coach Dwane Casey emphasized the need to limit the turnovers when they were in D.C., but they did not get it addressed while on the road. The downside for the Wizards is that they did get it fixed upon returning home. In Game 5, the Wizards had their series-worst 18 turnovers, while the Raptors had their series-low with just 10 turnovers. Toronto had 14 points off of Washington’s mistakes and the road team only had eight points off of the home team’s miscues, which did not help supplement the poor shooting enough. John Wall finished with a game-high seven turnovers.
“Some bad passes early on in the first half and then I had two crucial turnovers trying to split a screen in the fourth quarter,” Wall explained. “Other than that, there wasn’t nothing they did to make me force those turnovers. Just bad reads on my part.”
“They’re aggressive with their hands,” Brooks said. “They stab at the ball a lot. They got a lot of steals that way and a couple of them were just bad turnovers on his [Wall’s] part.”
DeMar DeRozan Show
Toronto shooting guard DeMar DeRozan has taken the next step from All-Star to All-NBA level talent this season with the addition of his three-point shot as well as his overall improved game. In 29 minutes, he had 32 points on 12-for-24 shooting to go along with five assists. More impressively, he had 30 points in 31 minutes through three quarters. Early in the series, Washington would blitz the Raptors’ best player but have no longer done so as role players would beat the Wizards. DeRozan got past the on-ball defense with ease and then either swung the ball to the open man or was able to finish the 2-on-1 by himself.
“We’re not giving him anything,” Brooks made clear. “He’s earning everything he gets. We just want him to be a volume shooter. He’s taking a lot of shots. That’s what he should do, he’s a good player. He’s getting to the spots that he likes and we have to do a better job of challenging those spots.”
For the second straight game, John Wall played the entire second half. On Sunday in D.C., Wall played 43 minutes and he followed that up three nights later with 44 minutes. In the fourth quarter when fatigue may have started to set in, Wall was just 2-for-6 from the field. Beal played 36 minutes in the game and was 1-for-6 in the fourth quarter where the lone make was a garbage time three-pointer that could have been used at any other point in the game. Ty Lawson has supplanted Tomas Satoransky as the backup guard partly because of his strong play days after finishing his season in China and it is fine to have the veteran see 14 minutes a game. Satoransky, on the other hand, should be seeing much more playing time than a measly four minutes after playing less than six minutes in each of the previous two games. The 6-foot-7 guard plays soundly on both sides of the ball, which is something Washington could always use.
At the forward position, Mike Scott should be playing more than Kelly Oubre Jr. Obviously, Oubre provides more upside and potentially spectacular defense, but when he is such a liability and volume shooter on offense, he needs to be shown the bench. Mike Scott was the only player to shoot better than 50 percent given at least two field goal attempts with seven points on 3-for-5 shooting so, in a game where the offense is struggling, he should play more than 14 minutes. It is a result of poor roster construction, but Scott Brooks also has to be smarter with his sees the court.
With 8:52 left in the game, the Wizards had an 87-82 lead, which was tied for their largest in the game. The Raptors then rattled off a 24-6 run to take control for a 13-point lead with less than a minute to play. Washington went scoreless from 4:05 to 0:16 left in the game, which is just asking for a loss. Delon Wright, who the Wizards admitted caught them off guard early in the season, had 11 points on 3-for-5 shooting in the final quarter. The road team could not buy a bucket with non-existent ball movement as Wall, Beal, and Oubre took turns taking six shots each during the quarter. In a season that was filled with scrutiny of Wall and Beal’s performance late in close games, this game is certainly not one to buck the trend.
“The ball just needs to keep moving,” Brooks emphasized. “I think the ball became a little bit stagnant tonight, down the stretch. We need to get some more ball movement.”
“We just got to continue to move it,” Beal stated obviously after the loss. “Continue to move without the ball, be aggressive. Don’t get stagnant, I think sometimes we get too caught up in being stagnant. Watching, whether it’s John or me or Otto, whoever has the ball, sometimes we just get too stagnant, just ball watching too much. We got to get some movement, player movement, ball movement and we’ll be right back on track.”
Next Game: Washington will fight to keep their season alive on Friday night in an elimination game. “We love our chances,” Wall responded when questionably asked how he likes the Wizards’ chances to return to Toronto for a Game 7.