Three years after the Washington Wizards made them disappear, the Toronto Raptors are in search of some playoff magic of their very own.
The Raptors had been swept by means of the Wizards within the first around in 2015 when all-stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan temporarily succumbed to the Wizards’ backcourt duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal.
On Saturday, the Raptors and Wizards will tip off for a first-round rematch.
Now an ESPN commentator, Pierce this yr has declared the Wizards his darkish horse workforce to advance out of the primary around.
With the Raptors the East’s No. 1 seed and the Wizards suffering on the finish of the season, Toronto gets an opportunity to turn out it finally has “it.”
Playoff historical past:
Washington’s 2015 sweep is the one time the 2 groups have met within the playoffs.
Last yr each groups had been bounced in the second one around. The Wizards fell in a tricky seven-game collection to the Boston Celtics, whilst the Raptors had been swept by means of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
There is one key distinction, despite the fact that. The Wizards have outperformed playoff expectancies with their present core; the Raptors have seriously underperformed. In truth, Lowry and DeRozan are some of the worst volume shooters in NBA playoffs history.
Toronto has misplaced 10 directly Game 1s, with the Lowry/DeRozan Raptors accounting for the previous seven. The drive might be on for them to begin sturdy this collection. If the Raptors lose any other Game 1, and Game 2 turns into necessarily a must-win house recreation, the drive will mount.
Washington faces no such drive. The Wizards finished a mildly disappointing common season, despite the fact that Wall neglected part the yr. On a up to date broadcast, ex-player Chris Webber stated Wizards workforce executives “want Toronto.”
The Raptors input the collection moderately wholesome. Backup level guard Fred VanVleet left the sport towards Miami Wednesday with a bruised shoulder, however X-rays got here again damaging at the undrafted sophomore. He’s indexed as day by day.
In Washington, backup ahead and three-point risk Mike Scott is lately sidelined with a concussion and is indexed as day by day. Otto Porter Jr., — their number one DeRozan defender — is questionable for Game 1 with a proper calf pressure.
But the most important worry is Wall. The former all-star performed handiest 41 video games this season and neglected lots of the 2d part following knee surgical treatment earlier than returning for the overall two weeks.
Wall averaged 27.2 issues according to recreation final post-season. If he is anything else not up to 100 according to cent, it is a giant blow to the Wizards.
Unless a workforce turns out to get alongside exceptionally smartly with each and every different, or, conversely, offers with numerous infighting, this class is a wash.
Both caveats observe to this collection. Toronto has been a type of consistency and pleasure. From the bench mob operating roughshod over combatants, to Jakob Poeltl and Pascal Siakam vacationing in combination and endorsing Google Home in combination, to Lowry and DeRozan invading each and every different’s post-game interviews, it is transparent the Raptors experience enjoying for each and every different.
Meanwhile, Washington can not seem to get alongside. Even with Wall again the final two weeks, head trainer Scott Brooks has referred to the workforce as “selfish” and “embarrassing.”
The Wizards could not even get alongside whilst successful. After a streak with Wall out, Beal was once requested in regards to the growth and stated “everybody eats,” that means everybody were given to the touch the ball. Many interpreted that as a shot at Wall being a ball hog, which Beal denied.
If issues begin to move fallacious for Washington — or it sounds as if even supposing they move proper — the collection may just move temporarily south for the No. eight seed.
By the numbers:
Toronto ranks 3rd in offensive ranking (issues according to 100 possessions) at 111. Washington is 14th at 106.nine. Toronto ranks 5th in defensive ranking (issues allowed according to 100 possessions) at 103.four. Washington slides in at 15th (106.2).
The Raptors are the one workforce within the NBA to rank within the most sensible 5 of each classes.
The Wizards shoot three-pointers at 37.five according to cent; the Raptors are at 35.eight according to cent. However, the Raptors’ general field-goal share is part a tick upper than the Wizards’.
Each workforce ranks some of the leaders in assists according to recreation. Each boasts a middle-of-the-road rebounding unit.
All season lengthy, the Raptors’ bench ruled its combatants. Among lineups that performed 200 mins this season, the Raptors’ bench – VanVleet, Miles, Poeltl, Siakam and Delon Wright – outscored its combatants by means of 19.four issues according to 100 possessions. That was once the fourth-best mark in the league.
Slotting 6th, alternatively, are the Wizards starters, with Kelly Oubre Jr. changing Markieff Morris along Wall, Beal, Porter Jr. and Marcin Gortat. The Raptors’ starters are 11th.
In the playoffs, starters mins are generally amped up whilst the bench takes on a lesser function. Raptors head trainer Dwane Casey stated this would possibly not be the case for Toronto, as a result of the bench’s good fortune.
How they play when cross-matched with Washington’s starters may just turn the collection in Toronto’s favour.
Of route, if that does not paintings, Toronto may just return to its starters, who’re no slouches themselves.
Game 1 might be key – particularly for Toronto. A Raptors win would put the workforce relaxed and sprint the Wizards’ over-confidence. A loss would feed into Washington’s mindset and re-ignite the narrative of the Raptors as playoff chokers.
Still, the Raptors are slightly obviously the simpler workforce. Raptors in five.