Shortly after losing some of their potent offensive options, the Raptors will have to gear up to play the Wizards from Washington, who have used some sort of magic and wizardry to conjure up one of the NBA’s best offenses. For the fans who have been around for awhile, this Wizards team should remind you a little bit of the last year of Jay Triano as coach of the Toronto Raptors. A whole lot of offense, and very little defense.
There isn’t a Wizard operating as the Jose Calderon of the team, but they rely heavily on the talents of Bradley Beal to lead them into the fray game in and game out. Beal has foregone all of the defensive potential he flashed as a young guard coming into the league to supercharge his offensive output, and the Wizards have taken to that style of play themselves. Their offense is a sight to see, the ball flings around the horn with abandon, as their trio of guards (Beal, Isaiah Thomas, Ish Smith) create tons of defensive penetration and sharpshooters like Davis Bertans shape up off of those drives, sliding into open 3-point shots.
It’s a unique offensive performance, and one that the Raptors could have some trouble keeping up with as they’ve been dealt another blow with injuries. But, this is also a game the Raptors should definitely win, they’re a much, much better team. The question is whether they plan to play the Wizards up-tempo game and send this thing into the 120’s or if they plan to roll out their stout defense and put a stop to all of the Wizards robust scoring.
With the Wizards relying so much on Beal’s creation, he’s hit a bit of a wall this season as he’s shooting under 40-percent from the field in his past 9 games and below 30-percent from downtown. The Wizards obviously want Beal to keep commanding so much of the offense, but few players outside of Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden can actually handle usage rates north of 30-percent and maintain their efficiency.
Keeping a handle on Bertans and suppressing his shot total seems to be a reliable way to slow down the Wizards offense at times. He’s the go-to release valve of the offense outside of Beal, and he’s elevated himself to a top-3 shooter in the NBA in the wake of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson’s injuries. He’s a heat-pump, and the Raptors have to make sure that their defense that so often gives up three-pointers isn’t allowing him to be on the end of open looks.
With injuries to Thomas Bryant, Moritz Wagner, and Rui Hachimura this looks like a prime opportunity for Serge Ibaka to camp out in the offensive paint and go to town on the offensive glass. These Wizards are really short on options to deal with the Raptors front-court, and it’s more than likely that, that’s where the Raptors will win this game.
This could also potentially be a big Chris Boucher game, so keep an eye out for that. A weak rebounding team that plays fast? Sounds like a stuffed stat sheet from Boucher.
Tipoff: 740pm EST | TV: TSN | Radio: TSN1050
Marc Gasol (hamstring) is out, Pascal Siakam (groin) is out, Norman Powell (shoulder) is out, Stanley Johnson (groin) is out, Fred VanVleet (knee) is a game-time decision, and Matt Thomas (finger) is out.
PG: Kyle Lowry, Terence Davis II
SG: Fred VanVleet, Patrick McCaw
SF: OG Anunoby, Malcolm Miller
PF: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
C: Serge Ibaka, Chris Boucher
Thomas Bryant (foot) is out, John Wall (heel) is out, Rui Hachimura (groin) is out, Moritz Wagner (ankle) is doubtful, CJ Miles (wrist) is out.
PG: Isaiah Thomas, Ish Smith
SG: Bradley Beal, Jordan McRae, Justin Robinson, Garrison Matthews
SF: Troy Brown Jr., Isaac Bonga, Admiral Schofield
PF: Davis Bertans
C: Ian Mahinmi, Anzejs Pasecniks
Have a blessed day.