The Toronto Raptors host the Washington Wizards north of the border Saturday night. This will be a rematch of a series dating back to 2015, when the seemingly apathetic Wizards squad squashed the surging Raptors. This contest will pit the John Wall led Washington offense against one of the best defenses in the league in the Raptors. The Raptors are coming into this contest heavily favored, at -8
Toronto’s Playoff History vs Now
If you bet based on trends, here is a strange one: The Raptors have dropped game one in 10 straight series in the playoffs. While this stat may make Washington appear to be an obvious money grab at +285, this Raptor team is different from those in the past.
Toronto has the fifth ranked defense in the NBA. Also, this team is very deep. The top four scorers from Toronto’s bench average a combined 41.8 points per game, compared to the #6-#9 scorers from the Wizards (who combined for 30.7 points per game). The aforementioned bench stat for Washington also included Jodie Meeks, who is out for the rest of the season due to a suspension.
The Raptors have even more impressive stats in their favor: Toronto ranked third in scoring in the league this year, at just under 112 points per game, while only allowing 103.9 points per game. That point differential is second only to the Houston Rockets.
Recipe for Success for the Wizards: The “Other Guys” Must Step Up
We all know that Bradley Beal is a very effective guard at this level. We all know that John Wall’s return is a huge boost for the Wizards. However, it is players like Kelly Oubre Jr. and Tomas Satoransky who will have to weather the storm that is the Raptor bench for the Wizards to have a shot at this one.
At the end of the day, Raptors such as Fred VanVleet, Jakob Poetl, and C.J. Miles will prove to be too much for the Washington bench which has also been depleted by the previously mentioned suspension of Meeks.
While Marcin Gortat is a good defender on the inside, guarding Jonas Valanciunas (12.7 ppg) will prove to be a big task for the Washington big. On the other side of the ball, Gortat will have to compete with an elite rim protector in Serge Ibaka. Gortat will have to perform at his very best to help propel his team to victory on Saturday. He does have the advantage of his returning point guard in two ways: Gortat is effective in the pick and roll with his veteran ability to read a defense, and, with the spotlight on Wall’s return, the defense may be more keyed on stopping him rather than clogging the paint.
It could be tempting to count on a huge performance from either the newly returning Wall or the established Beal to win the game for the Wizards, but I believe this game will be determined either in the paint or by the benches. At the end of the day, Toronto will be too much for Washington to handle, not to mention there is an equally compelling case for a big performance from Kyle Lowry or DeMar DeRozan.
Raptors Top Wizards
In this league and every professional sports league, anything can happen. However, as a general rule, numbers don’t lie. Toronto has consistently been able to put teams away at a comfortable margin all season long. Even with John Wall’s return, the beat will go on for the consistently impressive Raptors. Take the favored Raptors at -8.
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