Game three between the Toronto Raptors and the Washington Wizards has come and gone. The result – another Wizards win. The Raptors lost this pivotal game 106-99, and now are behind 3-0 in this best of seven series. No team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-0 series deficit; so let’s hope the Raptors can somehow make history. The Raptors played much better in this game compared to their last two games at home against the Wizards. The insertion of Amir Johnson to the starting line-up was a welcome sight, but clearly not enough to overcome what’s been a dominant Wizards team. DeMar DeRozan led all scorers in the game finishing with 32 points. John Wall led the charge for his squad once again finishing with a game-high 15 assists while dropping a cool 19 points.
The disappearing act for Kyle Lowry unfortunately continued in tonight’s game after it appeared that he’d broke out of his funk in the first quarter. Lowry finished the game with 15 points, however it came shooting 5 for 22 on the night. After such a promising season it’s truly disheartening to see the Raptors in this position. What’s probably even worse about this whole situation is the Paul Pierce is delivering haymaker after haymaker against the Raptors and there’s nothing that can be done about it. Pierce came through in the clutch hitting another dagger in the hearts of Raptors fans extending a 3-point lead to 6 with under 20 seconds to go.
Nonetheless as Raptors fans we must stay faithful and continue to support our squad even though the end seems imminent.The Raptors have a chance to extend this series and bring it back to Toronto, but with the way things have gone over these first three games it may be a little too late for that – the truth hurts.
The Raptors got out to a blistering start in game 3. Lowry and DeRozan had shaken off the cobwebs and were ready to take it to the Wizards. No one shone brighter than DeRozan to start the game as he dropped 20 points in the opening frame. After the first, the Raps had yet another disappointing second quarter scoring only 13 points in the frame. Sad part about DeRozan’s first quarter 20 points is that he didn’t score another field goal until late in the third quarter.
The Raptors pace was excellent for this game; they were +23 in shot attempts, but only +1 in actual field goal makes. Toronto’s usual scorers were once again rendered obsolete by the tough perimeter defence displayed by the Wizards. Lowry, DeRozan and Lou Williams combined to shoot a lousy 18-for-62. SIXTY-TWO shot attempts between three players does not scream balance when Washington’s team only put up 76 shot attempts for the game. If anything, big shots by Patrick Patterson linked with DeRozan’s early onslaught kept the Raptors inspired enough to stay with the Wizards.
Toronto didn’t lack effort on defence tonight as they were able to force the Wizards into committing 17 turnovers. What killed the Raptors on defence was their inability to close out possessions and their over-help on the ball-handler driving to the rim. The coverage on Marcin Gortat was slack all game until Tyler Hansbrough came in the game and really provided that interior grit the Raptors are always lacking. Second possessions really hurt the Raptors as well, for the Wizards were able to capitalize on those opportunities and get their crowd into the game.
The Raptors did a good job of taking care of Nene and Bradley Beal this game. They didn’t appear as comfortable, and Beal wasn’t talking all that hot garbage. However the guys who came off of the Wizards bench really stepped it up. Washington only came with an 8-man rotation against the Raptors tonight and no-one came up bigger for the Wizards than Drew Gooden III and Otto Porter. Their combined effort alone was able to outscore the Raptors bench 23-20. Coming into this series, Toronto’s depth was seen as a major advantage, however they’ve failed to really make a meaningful impact in the series.
The Raps wore black to their own funeral… #RTZ
— Raptors Cage (@RaptorsCage) April 25, 2015
The focus on the glass was there for the Raptors tonight. They really seemed to be battling the Wizards for every possession. The Wizards won the battle of the boards 45-41 which is encouraging based on the previous two games. Amir Johnson looked like he got his legs back and led Toronto with 12 rebounds. Jonas Valanciunas was also doing a decent job on the glass (finishing with 10 boards) before failing to see any court time in the fourth. That decision alone is perplexing as Valanciunas was one of the main reasons the Raptors stayed in the game during the third. After picking up his fourth foul, Dwane Casey decided to stick with him and let him play through it – which turned out to be a good decision. Playing Patterson for the entirety of the fourth quarter however – not so good. Patterson finished the game with only a single rebound. Patterson brings great energy, however is rarely in position to get key rebounds when you need them.
Game Ball: Marcin Gortat
Game three’s game ball goes to Washington Wizards centre, Marcin Gortat “The Polish Hammer”. Gortat led his team in scoring and rebounding finishing the game with 24 points and 12 rebounds. John Wall was able to find Gortat anytime he drove to the rim because the help defenders consistently overcommitted leaving Gortat open. Gortat also brought a killer left hook to tonight’s game (I think I counted 4) which put the Raptors in serious trouble because he can shoot that over anyone. Marcin Gortat has been the most consistent Wizards player in this series, and after not playing well against Toronto all season, he’s finally figured it out.