Opening Statements: Wizards vs Raptors, Game 48 | Wizards Blog Truth About

Opening Statements: Wizards vs Raptors, Game 48

Updated: January 31, 2015



When the Wizards last went head-to-head with the Raptors, in early November when Garrett Temple was still a starter, they got punked. Kyle Lowry did a bit (or a lot) of everything, DeMar DeRozan dropped 25, and Lou Williams and Terrence Ross combined to score 31.

“The Wizards were four point underdogs against the Raptors. They lost by 19, sniffing a 15 point deficit at various points during the second half,” recapped TAI’s Arish Narayen. “Otto Porter and Kris Humphries were co-MVPs of the game, with 13 and 11 points, respectively. Wall, Pierce, and Nene combined to go 8-for-35 from the floor for a total of 23 points. Washington’s first made 3-pointer came more than halfway through the third quarter. Meanwhile, Kyle Lowry finished the game with a triple-double.”

To come out on top against the Raps, and close the series gap to 4-6 in the Randy Wittman era, the Wizards will need more from their highly rated and oft-talked about backcourt. John Wall has shot under 29.4 percent in three of his last six meetings with Toronto and Beal has shot just 30.2 percent in the last four against the dinos, per the AP’s Jordan Garrettson.

We convinced William Lou (@william_lou), NBA editor at theScore, who you likely know from his great work at the ESPN TrueHoop blog Raptors Republic, to answer a handful of questions to preview tonight’s game.

Hold on to your butts…

Teams: Wizards vs Raptors
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Chinatown, D.C.
Television: CSN/Sportsnet 360
Radio: WNEW-FM 99.1/Sportsnet 590 The FA
Spread: Wizards fav’d by 4 points

#1) Do Raptors fans have an internal clock as to when Landry Fields’ contract will finally expire? How will his tenure be remembered?

@william_lou: The story of Landry Fields is a sad one. He’s an excellent interview and a kind soul, but there’s no place for a jumper-less wing in the NBA. It’s not for a lack of trying on his part—a nerve injury to his right elbow has refused to heal, to the point where he’s launching left-handed jumpers in practice. His tenure will be remembered by his appearances on “Sing Your Face Off,” where he famously dressed up in drag and looked like a Wes Anderson version of Nikki Minaj.

#2) DeMar DeRozan is back, and the Raptors have gone 7-3 in their last 10 with him. How much of a game changer is he for Toronto?

@william_louDeRozan is a huge game changer. His stats don’t look great (especially his efficiency metrics) but he does a lot to stable the Raptors’ razor-thin wing rotation. Offensively, the Raptors like to run a lot of quick, high pick-and-rolls, and DeRozan will often line up opposite to Lowry, so that if the initial action fails, the play can be reset and executed from the other side. DeRozan also plays a mean two-man game with Amir Johnson which includes a lot of dribble hand-offs (see here). Defensively, DeRozan isn’t a shutdown defender, but he’s solid enough to make the right rotations and usually doesn’t require help. He’s a big part of the team.

#3) Yesterday, Randy Wittman was asked about Washington’s troubles against Toronto. He responded with,  “I don’t give a shit what happened a couple years ago… I guess they can’t use that on the news.”

But the Raps are 4-1 in their last five vs. the Wizards, with an average margin of victory of 12.5 points. Does Toronto have Washington’s number?

@william_lou: I’d like to think that the Raptors have the Wizards’ number, but the Raptors aren’t exactly playing at full capacity. They’re barely getting by (needing OT to beat the Nets) with smoke and mirrors at the moment, and it wouldn’t be a surprise for Washington to reverse the trend against this stumbling Raptors team playing its fourth game in five nights.

Stylistically, the Raptors do match up well with Washington. The Raptors don’t rely too heavily on post-scoring, so they’re not completely shut down by Nene and Gortat the way Chicago is. Toronto’s backcourt is also a good match-up, as Lowry/DeRozan vs. Wall/Beal has been a fun battle to watch. Ultimately, it comes down to the bench. In their wins over Washington, the Raptors have always had a key contributor off the bench—usually Grievis Vasquez—who turns the tide. But Washington is a little deeper this year, so that might not be swayed so heavily in Toronto’s favor tonight.

#4) Who is the team’s X-factor this year?

@william_louLowry. He’s the straw that stirs the drink. His on-court play is well and nice, but the team as a whole takes on Lowry’s personality, much like in the same way that Washington is galvanized by Wall’s exuberance. Lowry has been struggling of late, often appearing gassed (head coach Dwane Casey is a little Thibodeau-ian with Lowry’s minutes) but he’s the reason why the team is where they are.

#5) And the LVP (Least Valuable Player)?

@william_lou: Hard to say. There’s five dead spots on the team between Greg Stiemsma, Chuck Hayes, Landry Fields, Bebe Noguiera, and Mr. 2 years from 2 years (Bruno Caboclo). But of the active players on the roster, I’d give it to Terrence Ross, who is every Raptors fans’ least-favorite player. He’s inconsistent, he’s terrified of contact, his defensive focus is lacking at times, and he can’t do anything off-the-dribble. Of course, he’ll put together games where he looks like a star in the making, raining down jumper after jumper, but for the most part, Ross is unreliable at a spot where the Raptors are weakest.

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John Converse Townsend
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
John has been part of the editorial team at TAI since 2010. He likes: pocket passes, chase-down blocks, 3-pointers. He dislikes: typos, turnovers, midrange jump shots.