Behind Miles, Toronto's Bench Outdistances the Wizards | Wizards Blog Truth About

Behind Miles, Toronto’s Bench Outdistances the Wizards

Updated: March 3, 2018

Prior to Friday night’s game, Coach Scott Brooks seemed to have all the answers to the challenges the Raptors would present to his Washington Wizards.

First, he tipped his cap to Toronto’s bench — coming into the contest averaging 41.3 points per game — by mentioning that they had a knack “moving the scoreboard”  by erasing and extending leads against their opponents.

Then he joked that CJ Miles, who is an unofficial Wizards killer, had the potential to hit 10 3-pointers on any given night.

Finally, Brooks mentioned that DeMar DeRozan’s ability to shoot and make 3-pointers, not only made him more difficult to defend, but it made the Raptors more difficult to defend overall as a team.

So common sense would lead one to believe that if Coach Brooks knew the secret to Toronto’s success, he could quell their attempts at it, provided his team continued to lean on Bradley Beal while making sure everyone else “ate.”

But as former ESPN personality Chris Berman used to say, “That, is why they play the games.”

The Wizards lost to the Raptors 102-95. And while Toronto’s defense did a masterful job of taking Washington out of their comfort zones during key points in the game (more on that later), the Wizards can trace their demise back to the very bullet points Coach Brooks laid out before the game: Toronto’s bench, CJ Miles and DeMar DeRozan.

It wasn’t just that the Raptors’ bench scored 50 of their team’s 102 points, it was when those points were scored. When they entered the game, the Wizards led by five points thanks to a balanced scoring attack by their starters. But then the opponent’s bench started to slowly chip away with the successful combination of smothering defense and efficient shooting.

They forced three turnovers in the first five minutes of the quarter (including two from the normally reliable Tomas Satoransky) which led to eight points. By the time their starters began to re-enter the game, Washington’s five-point lead had turned into a one-point Raptors lead.

In the fourth quarter, his bench was playing so well that Coach Dwane Casey opted to keep Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas and Norman Powell on the bench in favor of Jakob Poetl, Fred VanVleet and Miles. They combined to score 20 points as Toronto outscored the Wizards 25-21 in the fourth quarter. Washington’s bench scored just 15 points the entire night, which is something that Brooks did not bite his tongue about after the game — “Our bench didn’t make shots tonight,” he said.

The majority of the damage inflicted on the Wizards was done by CJ Miles, who scored 20 points in 20 minutes on 7-of-10 shooting from the field (6-of-9 from the 3-point line).

Otto Porter had just accounted for 11 straight Wizards points (six points, two assists), and as a result his team turned a four-point deficit into a three point lead. Then Miles hit consecutive 3-point basket to give the Raptors a lead heading into the final period.

In that fourth quarter, Miles scored 11 points — nine coming from the three-point line. Some of the shots were wide open (as were many of the Raptors fourth quarter 3-point attempts), others were contested much too late. It was if the Wizards had not gotten the pre-game memo from their coach that Miles was a threat from deep.

But Washington’s loss to the Raptors was not solely due to their inability to heed their coach’s warning. Some of their difficulties stemmed from the lack of offensive fluidity, which was a direct result of the Toronto’s physicality.

For the second consecutive game, Bradley Beal was guarded physically, which threw off his shooting rhythm. He shot just 8-for-19 from the floor and scored a hard-earned 23 points.

As a team, the Wizards committed 17 turnovers, and six of them came from Tomas Satoransky, who is usually quite careful with the ball (he’s averaging just 0.9 turnovers this season). When asked why he committed an unusually high number of turnovers, Satoransky had to tip his cap to the defensive acumen of his opponent.

“Not every team is playing the same defense. They were physical today and especially, my part, it was a different kind of physicality than I’m used to and I have to do a better job. I think it’s defense against who we face each and every game and definitely we were doing a great job the whole year. Now, we have to get back to not losing the ball.”

It wasn’t all negative for the Wizards. Porter played well for the second consecutive game with 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting, and Markieff Morris continued his solid play of late with 15 points. But it wasn’t enough. The Raptors slowed the pace, forced an inordinate amount of turnovers, and used a superior performance by their bench to inch by the Wizards. In short, they demonstrated why they continue to have the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Before the game, Coach Casey acknowledged that the Wizards were playing well without John Wall, because of their reliance on movement, on and off the ball. But he also said that those “experts” who were quick to proclaim how much better the Wizards were without him were smoking something, which caused the media scrum to break into raucous laughter.

With consecutive losses to two of the NBA’s best teams, it is quite clear that the Wizards are indeed missing Wall. Yes, he’ll have to take a long look at what worked for the Wizards in his absence, and hell yes he’ll have to make sure that he continues to support the “everybody eats” way of life that Beal has so vocally championed. But on nights like Friday, when a team has  figured out the Wizards’ tendencies and strengths, rendering their offense turnover prone and stagnant, it sure would help to have a quicker-than-life player to throw a monkey wrench in the plans of the opponent.

The Wizards still must wait. Even though Wall is ahead of schedule, according to Coach Brooks and a report from Comcast SportsNet’s Chris Miller, he is still a few weeks away from returning.  So for now, it is on to play the Indiana Pacers, fifth in the Eastern Conference Standings and just a half-game behind Washington.


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Rashad Mobley
Reporter/Writer at TAI
Rashad has been covering the NBA and the Washington Wizards since 2008—his first two years were spent at Hoops Addict before moving to Truth About It. Rashad has appeared on ESPN and college radio, SportsTalk on NewsChannel 8 in Washington D.C., and his articles have appeared on ESPN TrueHoop,, Complex Magazine, and the DCist. He considers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a hero and he had the pleasure of interviewing him back in 2009.