The Toronto Raptors (23-33) have won 7 of their last 10 games and play the Washington Wizards (17-37) at the Air Canada Centre after a nice weekend off. Last time these teams met the Raptors came away with a victory. Both Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan played exceptionally well in this matchup, lets hope for a repeat performance tonight. This is one of those must-win games for the Raptors, they cant allow the Wizards to come away with a road win in tonights game.
Cage’s 5 Keys To The Game
Set the Tempo
The Washington Wizards are a team that hasnt had the opportunity to gel very well this season, or ever it almost seems. The Raptors need to get running early and expose the transition defence of this lowly Wizards ball club.
Big Men, Complicated Names
Nene and Emeka Okafor are two of the Wizards smartest players. Their sheer size and abilitly to clear space on both ends of the court could prove problematic on both ends of the court. Jonas Valanciunas will have his hands full down low.
Space the Floor
The Raptors strength is now their unquestionable wing depth. Limiting isolation plays in favor of continous off-ball movement would only prove beneficial in a matchup like this. The Wizards just shipped out talented wing Jordan Crawford for an injured Leandro Barbosa, so this should be the main point of attack. Kyle Lowry should try and get his teammates involved early in this matchup.
Get Bargnani Involved
As strange and wrong as it may seem, just do it. It may not seem necessary for Andrea Bargnani to touch the basketball in order for the Raptors to win, but his style of play would create mismatches for the Wizards bigs. That is only if he can get some shots to fall with confidence. If Dwane Casey can give him some early burn than he can exploit this.
Playoffs or Bust
The Raptors need to come into this matchup smelling blood. Sitting just 4 games out of the final playoff position they can not afford to take ANY games off, especially the winnable ones. With the Milwaukee Bucks matchup on Saturday, the Raptors must start the week strong to continue the playoff surge.
X-Factor: Amir Johnson
Tonights X-factor will go to raptors power forward Amir Johnson. Johnson will have his hands full being undersized against the Washington bigs, but if he can use he quickness and soft touch to his advantage, Johnson should get his tonight.
Photo Cred: AP Photo/Alex Brandon)