Washington Wizards (43-39/ 0-0) vs Toronto Raptors (59-23/0-0)
Schedule: Game 1 Sat, April 14 Washington at Toronto 5:30 PM/ NBCSW/ESPN
Game 2 Tue, April 17 Washington at Toronto 7:00 PM/ NBCSW/NBA TV
Game 3:Fri, April 20 Toronto at Washington 8:00 PM/ NBCSW/ESPN2
Game 4:Sun, April 22 Toronto at Washington 6:00 PM/ NBCSW/TNT
Game 5*:Wed, April 25 Washington at Toronto TBD/ NBCSW/TBD
Game 6*:Fri, April 27 Toronto at Washington TBD/ NBCSW/TBD
Game 7*:Sun, April 29 Washington at Toronto TBD/ TBD
Wizards: Jodie Meeks (Out/ Suspension), Mike Scott (Game Time Decision/ Concussion), Otto Porter ( Questionable/ Calf)
Washington split the 2017-18 regular season series 2-2 against Toronto, with each team winning one game at home and one on the road. The two teams faced each other in the first round of the 2015 playoffs, with the Wizards winning the series 4-0.
Washington is looking to reach the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the fourth time in five seasons. Cleveland is the only other Eastern Conference team to reach this round in three of the last four seasons.
Washington is looking to become the sixth number eight seed in NBA history to defeat the number one seed. Only three of the previous six instances occurred in seven-game series (Golden State over Dallas-2007, Memphis over San Antonio-2011 and Philadelphia over Chicago-2012).
John Wall/ 19.2 ppg (42% FG/ 37% 3FG/ 72% FT), 9.6 apg, 3.7 rpg, 1.4 spg, 1.1 bpg vs Kyle Lowry/16.2 ppg (42% FG/ 39% 3FG/ 85% FT), 6.9 apg, 5.6 rpg, 1.1 spg-
Both point guards know each other well from previous playoff wars and countless battles during the regular season. John Wall coming off an injury plagued season should be close to 100 percent to as Kyle Lowry awaits. As Wall has worked through his rust shooting 42 prcent from the field, he has excelled in other facets in his return, shooting 37 percent from deep, dishing out 9.6 assist and being a menace defensively with his on ball, help side defense and his shot blocking. Wall is bringing the total all around game and its right on time due to the Wizards struggles to close the season. Lowry is having one his more efficient seasons shooting the ball which means Washington has to account for him more than ever. While he struggles finishing over length at times, he makes up for it high level three point shooting while being a ferocious on ball defender. This will be a hard fought battle throughout the series, however, due to his size advantage, speed in the open court and numerous ways he affects the game, John Wall should come out on top. Edge: John Wall
Brad Beal/ 22.6 ppg (46% FG/ 37% 3FG/ 79% FT), 4.5 apg, 4.4 rpg, 1.2 spg vs DeMar Derozan – 23 ppg (45% FG/ 31% 3FG/ 82% FT), 5.2 apg, 3.9 rpg, 1.1 spg-
This all star match-up will be one to see and may ultimately determine who wins the series. Both guards have clearly improved this season. Beal, a smooth shooting sniper, became a first time all star and played in all 82 games for the first time in his career while averaging a career high in assist and rebounds. His improved durability, ball handling and play nmaking should put to rest if he was worthy of the big contract he received a couple seasons ago. DeMar Derozan is a perennial all star who improved as a three point shooter and play maker after averaging a career high in assist. The Athletic guard has become more then a scorer and it catapulted the Raptors to the top of the Eastern Conference. This will be must see TV, however, Derozan’s size, athleticism and know how to make the players around him better along with being a more consistent defender, gives him the nod over Beal. Edge: Derozan
Otto Porter/ 14.7 ppg (50% FG/ 44% 3FG/ 82% FT), 2 apg, 6.4 rpg, 1.5 spg vs OG Anunoby – 5.9 ppg (47% FG/ 37% 3FG/ 62% FT), 0.7 apg, 2.5 rpg, 0.7 spg –
For most of the season, Porter Jr was the most consistent Wizard and it showed with a career high in points per game and three point percentage, He also improved defensively, being effective guarding multiple positions, specifically both forward spots. Porter will have a interesting match-up with the high motor rookie OG Anunoby. While Anunoby isn’t called on to make much noise offensively outside knocking down open three pointers, scoring in transition, off lobs and offensive put backs, he has emerged as the teams go to defender already.At 6’8, 232 a freak athlete, OG is a problem for any offensive player. With that said, Porter has been locked in all season and I fully expect that to continue in the playoffs, especially with a raw rookie having to figure tings out on the fly. Edge: Porter
Markieff Morris/ 11.5 ppg ( 48% FG/ 36% 3FG/ 82% FT), 5.6 rpg, 1.9 apg, .5 bpg vs Serge Ibaka – 12.6 ppg (48% FG/ 36% 3FG/ 79% FT), 0.8 apg, 6.3 rpg, 1.3 bpg –
This will be key due to similar impact they both have on their respective teams, yet in different ways. Kieff Morris is one of the more skilled forwards in the entire league. 6’9, can score from all three levels, out the post and is a capable rebounder, play maker and defender. When he puts it all together and controls his emotions, he can be unstoppable. Controlling his emotions and consistently putting it all together is the issue. Kieff wears his emotions on his sleeve and while it’s the essence that makes him who he is, it can also be a detriment for him. Serge Ibaka is more than willing irritant, who can play. While Morris relies on his skill, Ibaka is a blend of skill and will, who targets doing the dirty work while having range that extends out to three point territory, which he’s an efficient participant. He’s also one of the more rugged defenders in the league which is why Morris will have to keep his head. Him getting kicked out or suspended will deliver a major blow to Washington which could decide the series. Edge – Even
Marcin Gortat/ 8.4 ppg ( 51% FG/ 67% FT), 7.6 rpg, 1.8 apg, .7 bpg vs Jonas Valanciunas – 12.7 ppg ( 56% FG/ 40% 3FG/ 80 FT), 1.1 apg, 8.6 rpg, 0.9 bpg –
Feb 1st in a 122-119 win for Washington, Valanciunas posted 17 points (7-8 FG) and 6 rebounds to Gortats 10 points (5-8 FG) and 7 rebounds. On March 2nd, a 102-95 Toronto win, they played to a draw individually with Gortat posting 8 points (3-7 FG) and 8 rebounds while Valanciunas finished with 12 points and 4 rebounds . Both games were without Wall and that is an important factor. No one sets Gortat up for easy baskets better then Wall and even with Gortats diminished athleticism, this will cause the Raptors to make adjustments. On the other side, Valanciunas is a nightmare for Washington’s front court, due to his size, shooting ability and touch around the basket. While neither aren’t the best rim protector, both take up space in the paint due to their size Gortat 6’11/ 240, Valanciunas 7’0/265. With all things being equal, due to his edge being able to step out to three point range and knock it down, rather off pick & roll actions or setting up to make room for the Raptors guards to get to attack the basket, Valanciunas gets the nod in the match-up. Edge: Valanciunas
Both benches have been a major x-factor for both teams this season. Washington bench was much improved compared to the depth from the 16-17 team that was one game from being in the Eastern Conference Finals. The improvement of Kelly Oubre, Tomas Satoransky and the additions of Mike Scott, Jodie Meeks, Tim Frazier led a reserved unit that averaged 51.2 points this season. Toronto’s bench could be arguably the best in the NBA, they have size, versatility, athleticism, skill, toughness and YOUTH. With the likes of Norman Powell, Pascal Siakam, Delon Wright, CJ Miles, Fred Van Fleet and rookie big Jakob Poeltl, the Raptors bench brought terror to opponents all season, averaging 48.8 points per game and helping the Raptors to a 105.9 defensive rating, which is fifth in the NBA. Washington took a blow to their rotation off the bench as shooting guard Jodie Meeks was suspended by the NBA for 25 game for violation of the anti-drug program after he tested positive for banned compounds ipamorelin and growth hormone releasing peptide-2, as reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Washington signed NBA veteran Ty Lawson as a replacement, Lawson just completed a season in China. This means Washington has about a day to incorporate Lawson and make the necessary adjustments. While Washington had the edge offensively, defensively is a different case, being ranked 15th in the NBA with a 108.7 defensive rating. Being more consistently defensively gives the Raptors the edge. Edge: Toronto