Gameday: Wizards @ Raptors, Feb. 25

3.5 games out, here we come.

It’s rematch week for the Toronto Raptors (23-33), as just days after colliding with a Knicks team for the 2nd time in 10 days, they’ll host the Washington Wizards (17-37), who they played just 6 days ago. The Raptors won that game 96-88 in a largely uneventful wire-to-wire affair, save for both the shot and game clocks malfunctioning at the Verizon Center (hey, you gotta cut costs whenever you can). The Raps were able to win largely due to strong performances from DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay (24 apiece), and they should both be key tonight once again, as the Raptors have a significant advantage on the wing, exacerbated by the Wizards’ moving Jordan Crawford out of town earlier in the week.

Since these teams last met up, the Raps have gone 1-1 with a gritty, close loss to the Memphis Grizzlies and a thrilling win over the Knicks, while the Wizards have gone 2-0, beating the Rockets(!) and Nuggets(!!!!!). Don’t expect this to have too much bearing on tonight’s game, as it’s all about matchups on the floor, but the general idea here is that both of these teams are probably better than their records, and tonight has a chance to be a good one.

Anyways, though, I wrote the pre-game for these guys less than a week ago, and I’m running out of fresh material. Let’s get to the tale of the tape:

Tale of the Tape
O-Rating: Toronto 107.1 (12th), Wizards 99.9 (30th)
D-Rating: Toronto 108.1 (23rd), Wizards 103.0 (5th)
Pace: Toronto 92.4 (26th), Wizards 94.5 (13th)
Strength: Toronto ball control (2nd), Wizards defence (5th)
Weakness: Toronto Freebies (30th in Opp FTA/FGA), Wizards ball control (28th)

Positional Breakdown
Point Guards: Kyle Lowry, Sebastian Telfair and John Lucas v. John Wall and AJ Price
I jumped the gun a bit suggesting Bassy would be in the lineup for Friday’s game against the Knicks, but he’ll play tonight. His impact should at least bottom out the floor for the Raptors’ backup point guard – it’s not that Lucas has been bad (he’s actually been quite a potent scorer these last few games) but he can have stretches where he really hurts the team, and having a second solid-but-not-spectacular body to run the point will be an underrated acquisition for Toronto. Kyle Lowry got the better of John Wall last game, forcing 7 turnovers, and I’d suspect he’ll have the edge again tonight, though Wall can explode at times.

Wings: Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan, Landry Fields, Alan Anderson and Terrence Ross v. Brad Beal, Garrett Temple, Martell Webster, and Trevor Ariza
The only thing that’s changed here since the last time these teams played is the subtraction of Jordan Crawford from the Wizards rotation, which does lower the offensive ceiling of this group quite a bit. Bradley Beal has been on a tear the past few games (he had 25 in their matchup last week), but the Raptors are strong at guarding teams’ 3-point game, so he’ll have to do his best to slash and use his mid-range game to be really effective. Look for Landry Fields to draw the assignment for stretches – I’d imagine he’ll be up to the task. As was the same last time, there isn’t really anyone on the Wizards to match up with Rudy, and hopefully he’ll be primed for another big game coming off the high from Friday’s 2nd half.

Bigs: Amir Johnson, Jonas Valanciunas, Andrea Bargnani, Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy v. Emeka Okafor, Nene, Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker, Jan Vesely, Ryan Hollins and Cartier Martin
I gave the advantage to the Wizards last time, which might have been a bit generous – both teams didn’t get much scoring from their bigs, which is partly due to stingy defence on both ends and offensive limitations, again, on both ends. The wild card here is Andrea Bargnani, who’s floor stretching game could be extremely effective against two low-post defenders like Okafor and Nene. Hopefully he gets a few plays called for him and the fans are less vindictive then they were on Friday – echoing Blake’s point from yesterday, there’s no reason to boo your own guys. #SupportBargnani.

The Picks

Vegas: Raptors -3.5
Hollinger: Raptors -4
Garrett: The Wizards have been a solid team the last few weeks, but so have the Raptors, and I’d imagine a strong ACC crowd should be enough to get them through comfortably. Raptors by 7.

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