DeMar DeRozan broke the Wizards tonight.
The Wizards are not on the same page right now ? John Wall and Gortat arguing on the bench while Bradley Beal covers his face pic.twitter.com/PrTBywLbY3
— NBA Inside Stuff (@NBAInside_Stuff) April 18, 2018
Despite heroics from CJ Miles and Delon Wright on Saturday, it’s never a given that an unsung bench hero will step up, especially given a far-below-healthy Fred VanVleet, who logged only 3 minutes tonight. This series preview goes into the significance of Fred’s absence, which in hand, only increases the need for a spark from DeMar.
And a spark is exactly what he delivered.
As every Raptor fan wanted, or rather, needed to see in the early going of the playoffs, DeMar stepped up with an incredible showing, and 37 points later, Toronto will fly to the nation’s capital up 2-0 in a series for the first time in franchise history.
The 37 points looks even better given that it was on a ridiculously efficient 14 for 23 shooting line, including 3 for 6 from deep.
One thing missing from DeRozan’s game in prior years, and a reason why he has had some difficulty in the playoffs, is an ability to attack blitzes. Often times, pressure on DeMar meant a wasted possession for the Raps. He’s a natural born scorer, and often times it felt like he was simply not built to have to make reads when shown pressure. Tonight, the now playoff veteran (it’s odd to call a Raptor a “playoff veteran”, isn’t it?), showed his newfound maturity and growth by, as said by an elated Dwane Casey postgame, “taking what the defense gave him and making them pay.”
— NBA TV (@NBATV) April 17, 2018
A quick glimpse of DeMar’s highlight reel from the first shows his incredible confidence. Many of his points came from split second decisions to either rise up and knock down a shot or find a lane and drive through it with no fear. Long gone is his timidness of prior years. DeMar is an All-Star, and tonight, he certainly played like one.
Of course, the beauty of this Raptor team is that a huge outing from DeMar isn’t necessarily needed to come out with a win. But if the team is going to make a run in these next two months, a few massive outings like this one certainly won’t hurt.