Friday Night Showdown: Raptors @ Wizards – Game 3

The Washington Wizards host the Toronto Raptors on Friday night at Capital One Arena.  The game starts at 7:00 central. Washington will look to use the move to their home court to help keep them back on track.  Meanwhile, Toronto looks to steal a game on the road to take a commanding 3-0 series lead. The Wizards are slightly favored in this matchup, at -2.    

Defensive Woes

The possibility of a starting lineup shift amidst the playoffs is a definite distraction.  For a team that is surely trying to refocus amidst what can only be described as an abysmal defensive start, a potential shift will be even more of a distraction.  As anyone who has knowledge of team sports knows, a distraction is the last thing a team who is playing unfocused needs. However, something has to change for the Wizards, who have given up a combined 72 points in the 2 first quarters of this series.  44 of those points were in the first quarter of game 2 alone.

Among the changes on the floor that needs to happen centers around guard Bradley Beal.  Beal put up a particularly undisciplined performance in game 2, where his 4 early fouls limited his playing time.  He also scored only 9 points, as opposed to the 22.6 he averaged during the regular season. Beal needs to focus on getting quality looks and staying in front of his man on the defensive end.  Coach Scott Brooks indicated that Mike Scott might get the starting nod over center Marcin Gortat.  It’s not unreasonable to think that a shakeup might bring a lift to a seemingly lifeless team.

Raptors: Attack, Attack, Attack

The Toronto Raptors have built up a tremendous amount of momentum, winning games 1 and 2 convincingly, one by 8 and one by 11.  Toronto accomplished this by jumping out to big, early leads through suffocating defense. There is no reason to change this pattern.  Toronto’s guards need to be on the jerseys of their counterparts all night long, forcing turnovers and getting into transition like they did the first two games.  

One benefit of beginning the game aggressively is to get the Wizards’ guards into foul trouble.  Foul trouble is one thing, as mentioned above, that troubled the Wizards all game long in game 2.  Using aggressiveness to get the Wizards into foul trouble to limit the minutes of dynamic guards John Wall and Bradley Beal may be the best strategy for Toronto to take the commanding series lead.

Raptors Roll Over Wizards

While the money line may favor the Wizards, they have a lot going against them.  All the momentum has gone the Raptors’ way, and Washington now has the distraction of a possible lineup shift.  Whenever egos are bruised, reactions are bound to happen. The question is whether those changes are good or bad.  

I would hedge my bets toward bad. I see a distracted and possibly disorganized Wizard team facing off with a Raptor squad who is relentless on defense.  The Raptors will be able to force turnovers in the backcourt, while getting lots of transition buckets. Look for them to have another big first quarter on both sides of the ball, putting up at least 30 points in the opening frame.  The Raptors will ride the momentum to another convincing win. Take the Toronto Raptors at +2.

  • Bet the Toronto Raptors +2
  • Bet on the Washington Wizards -2
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