Washington Wizards v Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors gave the Washington Wizards the business last night.

Armed with a strong rebounding game and a relentless interior attack, Toronto completely exploited Washington inside the paint.

The box score reads the Raps scored a mere 32 points in the paint but don’t let that fool you.

Jonas Valanciunas had a statement game. His production alone on this night warranted him getting more touches not only in the contest but possibly for the remainder of the season.

[Also read Reaction: Wizards 78, Raptors 88]

He isn’t always the most aesthetic looking player, but he gets the job done. According to Synergy Sports, the big man came into last night’s game converting 49.4 percent of his shots in post up situations.

Obviously, context is important in this setting. He doesn’t necessarily score that well against every opposing big man, but last night was one of those nights. Valanciunas owned Emeka Okafor and Nene.

He had a few post ups as well as a couple of drives — always to his right! — that allowed him to score.

But JV’s biggest contribution last night on offense was his toughness. Every time he was given an open shot in the paint, he pump faked himself (took him a few seconds to realize how open he was) and then used the landscape at his disposal to attack the basket.

Routinely he was met with resistance, but he kept drawing whistles. His aggressive and physical play resulted in a 16-of-18 free throw shooting night.

Valanciunas’ scoring in the half-court helped the Raptors overcome a sloppy game. The majority of their 15 turnovers on this night were unforced. On a few occasions, players tried threading the needle with passes and instead coughed up the ball.

DeMar DeRozan was on his game in this contest. Dwane Casey’s regular sets were favorable for Toronto’s starting 2-guard on this evening.

One of the Raptors’ pet plays has DeRozan curling off a screen on the left side of the floor for an open jumper. If the big man defending the action on DeRozan steps out to contest his jumper, the shooting guard can essentially drive past him and get into the paint.

DeMar mixed up his game by attacking the paint and nailing his midrange jumpers. According to Hoopdata, DeRozan converted 6-of-12 shots from 16-to-23 feet against the Wizards. He also got himself to the basket and into the paint where he put pressure on Washington.

DeMar DeRozan shot cart against Washington Wizards.

DeMar DeRozan shot cart against Washington Wizards.

His final tall by night’s end was 25 points.

Valanciunas and DeRozan did a great job of taking whatever Washington offered them in this contest. But it can also be said that Toronto removed whatever available options the Wiz had, especially in the second half.

Indeed, Casey’s group held the Wizards to 28 points on 7-for-35 shooting from the floor in the final two quarters of the game. They kept John Wall out on the perimeter and the few times he wandered into the paint, he was met with resistance.

He managed 12 points in the second half, but was 3-for-11 from the field.

With the team hitting the road for their three next games, winning at home prior to leaving the friendly confines of Toronto is always a good thing.

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  • Wes

    Imagine how good the Raptors would be if they had been eliminated from playoff contention since the beginning of the season.

    • I see what you did there

    • robertparrish00

      Exactly my thoughts.

      I blame Casey for him not making the rookie/soph game.

      • ItsAboutFun

        Yeah, stupid Casey has bigger things in mind, for the kid’s development, than playing in a street ball game that means nothing.

        • robertparrish00

          Casey was too busy guiding us to the playoffs, than to let his rookies play. Had to rack up the wins! What fan wants to see a player we waited a year for??

          • ItsAboutFun

            And if he played the 20 year old kid hard at the beginning of the year, the kid burnt out and got injured for the rest of the year as a result, would you be praising Casey for doing the right thing, or bashing him for putting too much on the kid. The kid’s finishing the season in great fashion! Chill and enjoy it. Sheeeesh, some armchair NBA coaches just need to whine and bitch about something, or it would be no fun.

            • robertparrish00

              I just want to see JV play. That’s all. Its like when ED finally got minutes due to injuries, we realized how good he was…but shouldn’t he have gotten the minutes anyways? Why did it take team injuries for ED to get playing time?

              Casey said himself if this team was in a playoff hunt JV wouldn’t be getting these minutes.

              Minutes played…JV 1338, Waiters 1668, Beal 1745, Harkless 1756, Lillard 2889.

  • Statement

    Interesting thing about Jonas,

    I ran a search on basketball reference for rookie centres, sorted by WS/48 going back to 1980. Jonas is the 10th (or eleventh, tied with Marc Gasol) most productive rookie centre by that measure (out of 31)

    The other 9 centres who were more productive – David Robinson, Sabonis (at age 30 and a seasoned Euro veteran), Illgauskas, Dean Garrett (a 30 year old rookie who played extensively in Europe), Yao Ming, Hakeem, Shaq, Alonzo Mourning, Felton Spencer.

    Of these players, only Garrett and Spencer are relatively unknown. By this measure, Jonas is in some pretty good company.

  • p00ka

    Ah valanciunas, thank god we have another dominant WHITE player, I just want to jizz all over his face.