The Toronto Raptors prepare to take on the Washington Wizards for the first time this season. The Raptors are riding on a three-game win streak, that saw them take down the reigning eastern conference champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Led by Kyle Lowry’s 27 points, the Raptors were able to secure a 103-99 win over the Cavaliers improving to a 10-6 record on Drake night.
Following the win, Raptors’ forward James Johnson unexpectedly took to Twitter to voice his frustration of his playing time. “#Mood. Under-utilized,” tweeted Johnson. Johnson played just over five minutes on Wednesday, grabbing one rebound. Johnson later apologized for the tweet and declined to speak to media on Friday but head coach Dwane Casey said they spoke to Johnson about the tweet and are moving past it.
As the Raptors take on the Wizards on Saturday, Lowry didn’t call it a rivalry, but just the team that swept them in the playoffs last season: “They’re a different team; we’re a different team, so it’s a brand new matchup for us,” said Lowry.
Raptors Cage’s Keys to the Game:
Play Your Pace
The Raptors need to maintain the tempo in this contest, playing their style of basketball and not Wizards basketball. The Wizards are ranked second in the league in fast break points with 19.7 a game, and will look to force turnovers and get out running. The Raptors need to limit their turnovers and not gamble on the offensive end so it to won’t allow the Wizards easy baskets in transition. Trust the ball movement and don’t force yourself into a tough situation as the Wizards will prey on that.
Ranked 27th in the NBA in points in the first quarter, the Raptors need to kick it into high gear early and take over this game and not look back. The Raptors have been above par in the last three games averaging 28 points in the first quarter and will look carry those great starts into this to send a message to the Wizards.
Earn some respect
The Wizards who swept the Raptors last season will have a chip on their shoulder in every single matchup with the Raptors. The Raptors need to show the Wizards that they actually have the “it” this season and their team that should not be taken lightly.
X-Factor: Kyle Lowry
Lowry clearly struggled against the Wizards in the playoffs last season averaging 13.5 points on 31.5% shooting from the field and an atrocious 21.7% from beyond the arc, will look to avenge himself on Saturday for his playoff woes.