I caught up with Rashard to ask him about tonight’s matchup with the Raptors. The take away: Both teams have the same game plan. The Raptors play fast and loose with plenty of pick and rolls. According to Lewis, the Wizards will look to do much the same.
Lewis identified forward Andre Bargnani and point guard Jose Calderon as the primary threats on the Raptors, as I’d imagine Toronto is concerned about the Lewis-Wall tandem.
Bargnani is a big key for this team, he’s playing great this year. He’s big, so he creates matchup problems, he can shoot threes– he can post up, he can drive to the basket, sets a lot of pick and rolls with the pick and pop or he can roll to the basket… so it’s a number of different things to look out for. And Calderon is also a good point guard so there’s a number of different things we need to be ready to defend with those two.
As for pace, Rashard supposes the Wizards need to push the ball as much as possible, but it has to come from defense. That is, play fast, but not loose.
It’s a big key tonight. We need to come out and hit them first, set the tone . You know they like to play fast but we like to play fast, as well because John is our point guard, and he’s better when we play fast… I think if we can defend first and hold them to one shot and then kick the ball to John and get out and just run we’ll be better off on offense.
In the half court, Lewis noted that the Wizards have the ability to really hurt the Raptors’ bigs with pick and roll action (sound familiar?):
We most definitely want to put them in a lot of pick and rolls and not let Bargnani just rest on defense and only play offense because he’s a great offensive players. So we want to put him in foul trouble and attack him. Make him move his feet on the perimeter
Look for an up and down game with plenty of wackiness from these two beat-up, young, unpredictable squads.