By Cardell Dudley
Washington Wizards (28-22) vs Toronto Raptors (34-15)
When: Thursday , February 1st at 7p.m.
Where: Capital One Arena in Washington D.C.
TV: NBC Sports Washington / Radio: 1500 AM
Wizards: Sheldon Mac (Out, Achilles) , John Wall (Day to Day, Knee)
Raptors: CJ Miles (Game time decision, Knee)
The Wizards host the Toronto Raptors for the first time this season. The two teams split the first two meetings this season in Toronto in November.
Over the last three games Markieff Morris is averaging 20.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game on a combined 23-38 (.605) shooting from the field and 7-12 (.583) shooting from three.
Morris Month-By-Month Improvement
MIN PTS FG% 3PM REB AST TOV +/-
Jan. 29.8 11.6 .496 1.2 7.6 1.6 1.3 +3.6
Dec. 25.3 11.3 .492 0.9 5.1 1.1 1.9 -0.3
Nov. 22.6 9.0 .421 1.0 4.4 1.1 1.6 -1.8
107.0 – points per game
105.4 – points against
46.5 – Field goal %
111.1 – points per game
103.8 – points against
46.7 – field goal %
Keep an eye on:
DeMar Derozan: As he goes they go. Derozan is having the best season of his career with averages of 24.4 points (46% FG/ 33% 3FG/ 82% FT), 5.2 assist and 4.1 rebounds per game. He’s added range this season, becoming a respectable three point shooter which added to his deadly mid range game and elite finishing ability, makes him a nightmare to defend. Washington throwing waves of defenders at Derozan along with him having to defend Beal, Porter and Oubre in stretches could tire him out and force him into an inefficient night which will go a long way to ensuring another win for the Wizards.
Wizards ball movement/energy: needs to be the same as it was in a win over the Thunder. Against OKC, Washington finished with 27 assist on 34 made field goals. The Ball movement was ideal especially with Wall being out for possibly two months and it contributed to five players scoring in double figures and a sixth, Mike Scott, finishing with 9 points. With every opponent focused on stopping Beal, Washington will have to share the offensive load by committee to stay in the playoff picture and allow Beal to close. The win over OKC was a huge start, however, that type of inspired play will have to continue.
Raptors at the free throw line: Washington has had trouble defending teams without fouling all season, which has contributed to their up and down season thus far. Against Toronto, that will have to change. Toronto is fourth in the NBA in free throw shooting, knocking down 79 percent from the line. That’s huge, especially in close games. The Raptors have seven players in their rotation shooting 80 percent or better from the line, led by point guard Kyle Lowry’s 87 percent. Washington must limit the Raptors attempts at the line if they’re to have a strong chance at being victorious
Half hearted, soft drives to the basket: Won’t work. Toronto is an elite shot blocking team, ranking second in the NBA overall in Blocks at 6.1 a game. Drive strong or don’t drive at all……simple.
Satoransky Length: bothered Russell Westbrook into a 5 of 18 shooting night. Tomas battled the explosive point guard all night and his effort defensively was vital in the win. The same energy must be applied tonight against Kyle Lowry. Lowry is quietly putting up near triple double numbers with averages of 16.4 points, 6.6 assist and 6 rebounds per game. Sato will especially have to be aware of where Lowry is at the three point line as he’s shooting 38 percent from the season, which helps lessen the negative impact from Lowry’s 41 percent shooting from the field overall. Tomas has the tools to frustrate Lowry if he comes to play like he did against Westbrook.