Gameday: Raptors @ Wizards, Jan. 21

6 mins read

The backend of the Eastern Conference playoff picture is competitive, and here are two of the major players.

With the Raptors tough run of games – not only in outcome, but in tone and playstyle – they’ve fallen back to .500 after a tremendous run of form allowed them to cascade above it. The upward and onward ideals many of us had for the team have been dashed, for the moment, and replaced with conversations about how bodies hold up when they play a certain amount of minutes.

A loss to the scalding hot Mavericks, led by the magical stylings of Luka Doncic, the Raptors need a win. Surely, they could win one in march instead of now and it would serve the exact same purpose, but there’s something to be said about not dipping back under .500. The Wizards stand in their way both in this game and in the standings. The universe has provided a unique opportunity for a leapfrog of the ‘Zards and an end to a losing streak to dovetail.

For their part, the Wizards are fresh off a loss to the Kyrie-full and Durant-less Nets – wherein there was plenty of controversy, because one of the Nets assistant coaches actually reached out and touched a ball in play in the last minute of a close game! Outrage! Scandal!

Given the players on the roster and the Wizards defensive playstyle, we may finally see the Raptors return a little bit more to the Fred VanVleet-led offense that has been the norm for much of the season. As Thomas Bryant’s explosive offense – and terrible defense – filter in, Daniel Gafford’s playtime begins to dip, and with it perhaps some of the Wizards defensive structure. The collection of Bradley Beal, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope don’t have the defensive talent or bandwidth to subject VanVleet to the same intensity of blitzes. If you’ve been betting on VanVleet 3 point attempts (how odd??), maybe take the under.

The last time these two teams met up, Pascal Siakam torched the Wizards largely from the mid-range. However, given the lineup changes for the Wizards and Siakam’s insatiable hunger for the paint and free throw line of late, he could eat – especially when you account for the Wizards overall weakness in allowing trips to the line. As for OG Anunoby’s possessions on-ball? I think that will largely depend on how free of pressure VanVleet’s possessions are. If the Wizards stick one of ‘KCP’ or Beal on Scottie Barnes to start, we could see a determined effort to feed him through the post.

Defensively, the presence of Montrezl Harrell looms large. He’s averaging 14 points (on 70-percent from the floor) and 11 boards against the Raptors this season, and Chris Boucher and Precious Achiuwa will have a good opportunity to build on their collective momentum as adequate frontcourt players in this league by putting a stop to Harrel’s proclivity for buckets and boards against the Raptors. But, as far as Beal and Dinwiddie go, the Raptors have done a pretty stellar job against the 3 outings prior to this. The length and dig downs have been largely effective against that duo. Hoping for more of that – although Bryant’s presence may change their defensive calculus a bit.

More than anything, this seems like a unique opportunity for their offense and defense to get back on track under the same umbrella of a game. The Wizards are in the bottom third on both sides of the floor, and good lord wouldn’t it be nice for the Raptors to grab a game that wasn’t fought for tooth and nail.

Toronto Raptors Results, Lineups & Injuries

Previous Results

@ Mavericks L 102-98
@ Heat L 104-99
@ Bucks W 103-96
@ Pistons L 103-87
vs Suns L 99-95

Probable Lineup

PF: P. Siakam, C. Boucher
SF: S. Barnes, J. Champagnie, Y. Watanabe
C: P. Achiuwa
PG: F. VanVleet, M. Flynn, D. Banton
SG: O. Anunoby, S. Mykhailiuk

Injuries

Gary Trent Jr., SGOut moreTrent (ankle) is questionable for Friday’s game against the Wizards.
Khem Birch, COut moreBirch is expected to be out for 10-14 days after recently undergoing nose surgery, Blake Murphy of The Athletic reports.
Goran Dragic, PGOut moreDragic (personal) remains out for Monday’s game in Miami, Blake Murphy of The Athletic reports.

Washington Wizards Results, Lineups & Injuries

Previous Results

vs Nets L 119-118
vs 76ers W 117-98
vs Trail Blazers L 115-110
vs Magic W 112-106
vs Thunder W 122-118

Probable Lineup

PF: K. Caldwell-Pope, R. Hachimura, A. Gill, I. Todd
SF: K. Kuzma, D. Bertans, C. Kispert, D. Avdija
C: D. Gafford, M. Harrell, T. Bryant
PG: S. Dinwiddie, R. Neto, A. Holiday
SG: B. Beal

Injuries

None

Betting Lines

tor wsh
EVEN Spread EVEN
-110 Money Line -110
Over/Under
219.0

Hope you enjoy the game!

Have a blessed day.

 

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