Gameday: Raptors @ Wizards, March 31st

Happy Easter!

It’s Easter Sunday, but there’ll be no rest for the weary Raps (27-45) as they start the first half of a holiday back-to-back against the Washington Wizards (26-46), in a matchup of two teams just playing out the remainder of their schedule. Heat/Thunder this is not, but both of the NCAA games on today are early starts, and there are certainly worse ways to bridge the gap between March Madness and Easter dinner.

The Wiz are actually in the midst of a six-game home winning streak, which is their longest streak in over five years(!), and so should be about as motivated as a 26-46 team can possibly be. Perhaps surprisingly given their lineup, they’ve been winning games with stingy team defence (they’re actually fourth in the league in D-rating over the course of the year) so even though the Raptors have an advantage in terms of individual talent, the Wizards might be a tad stronger as a collective. Basically, don’t come out flat, or you might get blown out of the building by a lottery team (silver lining: a loss would move the Raptors into a tie with the Wiz when it comes to draft lottery standing, so there’s that?).

In any case, come to watch Jonas and John Wall, stay for the Alan Anderson/Martell Webster battle for irrational confidence guy of the year. Let’s get to the tale of the tape:

Tale of the Tape

O-Rating: Toronto 106.4 (16th), Wizards 100.4 (30th)
D-Rating: Toronto 108.4 (23rd), Wizards 103.27 (4th)
Pace: Toronto 92.9 (23rd), Wizards 94.3 (14th)
Strength: Toronto ball control (4th), Wizards defence (4th)
Weakness: Toronto Freebies (30th in Opp FTA/FGA), Wizards ball control (27th)

Head to Head
Series tied 1-1
February 19th: Raptors 96, Wizards 88
February 25th: Wizards 90, Raptors 84

Positional Breakdown
Point Guards: Kyle Lowry, Sebastian Telfair and John Lucas v. John Wall and AJ Price
Lowry is more consistent, though Wall can occasionally explode for a huge night. I’m giving the Raptors the advantage due to their backup guards, though that’s is tenuous at best. Either Wall or Lowry will take control of this matchup very early – my money’s on Lowry, but I am a bit of a homer, admittedly.

Wings: Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan, Landry Fields, Alan Anderson and Terrence Ross v. Garrett Temple, Martell Webster, and Trevor Ariza
Brad Beal out with an ankle injury: wing advantage to pretty much any team that the Wizards play.

Bigs: Amir Johnson, Jonas Valanciunas, and Aaron Gray v. Emeka Okafor, Nene, Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker, Jan Vesely, Jason Collins and Cartier Martin
Nene has missed the last 3 games with an injury and will be a game-time decision tonight. If he sits, the Wizards will start Trevor Booker in his place, which gives you a bit of an idea of how thin their front line situation currently is. The Raptors have the advantage offensively here and the Wiz have one defensively, though that is certainly tempered a bit with Nene’s uncertain status. Amir will be key battling with Okafor on the boards, as he always is.

The Picks

Vegas: Wizards -3.5
Garrett: The Wiz have a streak to play for, while the Raptors are just playing out the schedule. I’m hoping for a comfortable Raptors win, but sometimes, a little motivation can make all the difference. Wizards by 4.

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