Opening Statements: Wizards at Raptors, Game 5 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Opening Statements: Wizards at Raptors, Game 5

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Updated: April 25, 2018

The Toronto Raptors appeared to have control of the series after exorcising their opening-game playoff demons and then following that up with a dominating display in Game 2. Toronto did what they were supposed to do and won their two home games, but the Wizards turned around and followed suit, even if the Game 4 victory took a lot more resolve than they had probably anticipated.

Washington is back in Toronto for a pivotal Game 5. When a series is tied at 2-2, the winner of Game 5 has gone on to win the series 83 percent of the time in seven-game series. The Raptors treated Game 1 like their Game 7, and tonight’s Game 5 is just as important. The Wizards carry a little momentum heading up to Toronto, but will have to overcome a lot of obstacles in order to pull off the upset. The Raptors only lost seven total home games over the course of the season (one of which was to the Wizards, albeit way back in November), while Washington has lost their last six road playoff games. The Wizards have not figured out a way to bring their same intensity on the road in recent playoff memory and will have to inevitably win at least one road game if they want to advance.

The bench for each respective team will certainly play a role in deciding the outcome of Game 5. The Raptors bench wiped the floor with their Wizards counterparts in Game 1, outscoring them 42-21, but since then the table has turned in terms of bench production. Toronto now has the worst bench of the entire playoff field (-15) when it comes to Net Rating, while the Wizards have had the second best bench (+8.2).

Washington’s second unit has been led by forward Mike Scott, who is averaging 12.5 points per game on 69 percent shooting from the field. Scott’s bench-mate Kelly Oubre has been up and down this series, but has helped provide an energetic spark to the team by impacting the game on the defensive end.

Stopping by Truth About It today is Russell Peddle, a maven at numberfire.com specializing in all things analytics (and fantasy hoops). You can find his thoughts on basketball, and poutine, at @rustypedalbike, as well as his work right here.

Teams: Wizards @ Raptors
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Air Canada Centre. Toronto, Ontario
Television: NBS Sports
Radio: WNEW 99.1 FM / WFED 1500 AM
Spread: Raptors favored by 7

1) The Raptors had the best bench unit in the entire NBA during the regular season, which carried over in the first two games. What’s happened since, and how much does this unit miss Fred VanVleet?

Too much time has been spent with five-man combinations that are not quite working.
The Raptors’ second most-used lineup in this series is one where DeMar DeRozan stays on the floor with four bench guys (Delon Wright, C.J. Miles, Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl) and it has a minus-52.9 net rating in 14 minutes of action. Compare that with the all-bench unit of those same four bench guys with Fred VanVleet from the regular season (net rating of 17.1 in 340 minutes played) and you have your answer.
If FVV can’t get right, Dwane Casey will just have to continue to tinker and find combinations with better chemistry. That same lineup with Lowry instead of DeRozan has a plus-5.5 net rating in 13 minutes of action, for example, and an all-bench unit with Norman Powell in DeRozan’s place has an 8.4 net rating in eight minutes.

2) Dwane Casey has done a masterful job of recreating the Raptors identity this season and part of that comes from not running so much ISO-ball. Is it a discouraging sign that DeRozan has reverted back to that style—and what can Toronto do to remedy that problem?

The Raptors were fourth in the Association in turnover percentage this season at 12.1 percent, but are dead last of the 16 teams that qualified for the postseason at 15.5 percent. Ball control has always been one of this team’s biggest strengths, so their turnover woes have likely discouraged them from zipping the ball around these last couple games, and that’s getting them away from what worked so well for them this season during their “culture reset.”
That said, overall they’ve still only had 8.3 percent of their possessions coming in isolation over these four games (up only slightly from their 5.9% regular season mark) and only 13.0 percent of DeRozan’s personal possessions have gone that way (right in line with his 13.3% from the regular season), so it’s not as bad overall as people might think.
The Raptors’ old trappings have been under a microscope over these last two games — particularly in an admittedly horrible fourth quarter in Game 4 — because they simply regressed to letting their two All-Stars try to take over in a desperate situations and crunch time, rather than relying on the ball movement and depth that won them 59 games in the first place.
Ultimately, DeRozan and Kyle Lowry need to show more trust in their teammates in Game 5, and those teammates need to earn it by letting open shots fly. Getting back home to Toronto will almost certainly help with that.

3) As someone who covers the NBA from a national scope, do you think the Wizards have gotten a quality return on investment from giving Otto Porter a max contract last summer?

Absolutely. As someone who is enamored with statistics and efficiency, Otto Porter is one of my favorite players. He might not have the star appeal of John Wall or Bradley Beal, but what he brings to the team is of comparable importance.
He doesn’t fill the box score in flashy ways, but a guy with a shooting split of 50.3 percent from the field, 44.1 percent from deep, and 82.8 percent from the line is the ultimate release valve for a team that forces opposing defenses to pay a load of attention to its two All-Stars. And while he might not be the team’s leader in any major box score category, his efficiency has him ranked first on the Wizards in win shares (8.1), win shares per 48 minutes (.161), box plus/minus (3.6), and value over replacement player (3.4).
Even if you don’t care about advanced metrics, his leading the team in basically every efficiency category is a testament to his importance and overall value. He’s worth every penny in my eyes.

Troy Haliburton on Twitter
Troy Haliburton
Writer
Troy Haliburton is a native Washingtonian, and graduate of Gonzaga College High School and Morehouse College. He is going into his second season writing for Truth About It, and also writes for sports analytics website numberfire.com. You can find him in a district bike lane in the Northwest neighborhood of Bloomingdale.